Read Write Inc. is a government backed phonics scheme designed by Ruth Miskin, which through systematic teaching and consistent routines, enables children to achieve high levels of reading success. At St Cuthbert’s, we believe that reading is the key to all learning and we are fully committed to making sure that every child is a reader by the end of KS1.
We have a dedicated team of Teachers and Teaching Assistants who have all received accredited RWI training and they are referred to as RWI Tutors. They are passionate about achieving success and take part in weekly meetings for coaching and training purposes. The scheme is overseen by the RWI leader, who will monitor RWI sessions and ensure that all teaching is high quality and that children are focused and engaged.
Each child is carefully assessed and placed into a RWI group based their phonics sound knowledge and reading skills. This ensures that all children are working at the right level for their ability which is the best way to ensure progress and confidence in their reading skills. Groups are assessed every half term (6 weeks) and children are moved accordingly to either accelerate progress or provide further consolidation. Any children who are not making sufficient progress will be given targeted intervention or additional 1:1 support during afternoon sessions. This compilation of rapid acceleration, streamed groupings and targeted support all helps to ensure our children are confident readers by the time they leave Year 2.
Children are taught the early sounds in Set 1. This covers the alphabet and a few ‘special friends’ which are two letters which make one sound such as ‘sh’. They will learn to spot and recognise them quickly through fun activities and also to write them using ‘phrases’ to help them remember the correct formation.
Tutors teach children ‘pure sounds’ which can be heard using this https://schools.ruthmiskin.com/training/view/V9NsPHxr/DNFBJ9TS
Using these simple sounds, children will learn to ‘blend’ words together so c-a-t becomes cat.
To help the children do this, we have a lovely green frog called Fred! He can only talk in sounds so the children put the sounds together to make the word. We call this ‘Fred Talk’. This is also used in early reading, as when children see a new word they can use ‘Fred Talk’ to break down the sounds and then say or read the word. Similarly, this supports early writing skills as children use ‘Fred Fingers’ to break down a spoken word into its sounds to enable them to write the word. We use the phrase ‘Say the word – pinch the sounds’ to help children remember.
When they are confident with blending and know all of their Set 1 sounds, the children will move onto Set 2 sounds and then Set 3 sounds, which introduce alternative spellings for sounds they know and more special friends.
They may begin to use ‘Fred in their head’ to read more quickly and fluently, which helps to build up speed, however this stage is also tricky for children as they need to be able to spot ‘special friends’ easily within new words.
Words which can be decoded are called ‘Green Words’ as they can be deciphered using phonics knowledge.
Unfortunately, there are lots of words in the English language that do not follow these rules … they are called ‘Red Words’ or tricky words and need to be learned by sight. We use the phrase ‘You can’t Fred a red’ to remind children.
When faced with an unfamiliar word we use the phrase ‘Special friends – Fred talk – Read the word’ as this reminds them that it is important to spot the special friends before attempting to read the word. To further consolidate this we also use ‘Alien Words’ which are made up words that do not make sense. These words test to see if the children can spot any special friends and that they have good sound knowledge, rather than recognising familiar (or sense) words and using memory rather than reading skills.
By moving through the carefully designed stages (or colours) of books which consolidate the sounds learned at the right time, children will gain speed and confidence in their reading ability. As reading becomes more fluent, children begin to understand the stories they read and can enjoy the books.
After the 30-minute session with their RWI Tutor, children will return to class for an English lesson with their teacher. They will explore many different writing activities, building up sentence structures and rehearsing ideas before writing. During this, they will use the Sound charts to help them identify the correct spelling for a sound and will be taught various spelling strategies within their class to support spelling. They will continue to work on letter formation and investigate grammar and punctuation rules appropriate for their year group. This will enable all children to practice and apply their individual phonics learning throughout the lessons and for class teachers to provide further input.
The scheme provides a strict routine and is very fast paced. Children will learn a new sound per day. As all children learn at different paces, some will find reading easy while others find more challenging. We aim to support pupils who struggle or fall behind with thorough 1:1 or group interventions, and may ask that further work is completed at home to allow them to ‘catch up’. It is therefore hoped that all children will finish the phonics scheme by the end of Year 2.
Whilst your child is learning their Set 1 sounds we recommend you only read their ‘Reading for Pleasure’ library books. This is a book that they are interested in and have chosen to enjoy with you. They can look at the pictures and spot letters or sounds that they know to build confidence but most importantly they should hear you read the book with expression in order to absorb the rich language and vocabulary within in and learn to love story time.
When your child is learning to blend, they will be given RWI Blending books. To help your child with these, ask them to try to ‘Fred Talk’ the word and blend it together … when they turn the page they will see if they were right! Encourage them to sound out carefully using pure sounds and give lots of praise and support for effort and success. You should also continue to read their library book and encourage them to spot any sounds, special friends or words they know to boost rapid identification by sight.
Once confident in blending, children will begin to receive two RWI books. One is the book they have read at school. They will have read this book with their RWI Group Tutor so should be confident and familiar with the story. This is done to build self-esteem and enjoyment in reading as well as to allow them to show off their reading skills to you! The second book is a Book Bag Book. This will be unfamiliar to your child so read the opening instructions on the front page carefully before reading. These books allow children to apply their reading skills and are matched to the sounds they have been taught so far.
These books should be read at home three times before being returned to school.
It is recommended that all reading should take place in a calm and quiet environment, a story before bed time or snuggled on the sofa without distractions of the TV and other devices so the focus can purely be on the reading enjoyment. It should be relaxed and enjoyable and lots of praise should be given when children are successful.
If your child is struggling, encourage them to sound out words using Fred Talk and help them to blend and then praise for being successful.
Don’t forget that even if your child can read RWI books it is still important for them to regularly hear you read in order to learn expression. This will remove some of the pressure on them and also helps to improve their vocabulary levels as the books they listen to can be for any age. They will still be bringing home a library book of their choice so make sure to include this in the weekly routine if you can. Audio books are also helpful and can be a good technique for settling and relaxing children before bed or as part of longer car journeys.