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Orchard Primary Academy



At Orchard Primary Academy, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We are committed to ensuring every pupil will learn to read, regardless of their background, needs or abilities. We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Phonics is the process that is used to help children break down words into sounds, as well as building letter and word recognition. Children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read the words. Children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling.


At Orchard Primary Academy, we follow the validated systematic synthetic phonics programme, Read, Write, Inc. Read, Write, Inc. is a method of learning which is centred around letter sounds and phonics, blending them together to read and write words and using these learnt sounds in their reading and writing. Using Read, Write, Inc. the children learn to read effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they have read. It also allows them to spell effortlessly so that they can focus on composing what they write.

The children are assessed and grouped according to their ability and they work with a teacher or teaching assistant in a small group.  The children are continuously assessed by the Phonics Leader, to ensure that they move through the programme at a good pace.  At the end of each half term all children are assessed and then put into new groups according to their phonic knowledge and fluency when reading.

RWI Lessons


We begin by teaching the children set 1 sounds.  Children can start blending sounds into words as soon as they know a small group of letters well. Once the children have been taught the first 5 sounds (m, a, s, d, t), they are then taught assisted blending using the sounds that they know.  During lessons children are taught to hear sounds and blend them together in sequence to make a word.  We start with blending oral sounds, then progress to reading the letters and blending them together to read the word. During phonics lessons children have time to work independently; with a partner or in small groups.

Here is a video for parents about Read, Write, Inc. Phonics. 

Order of teaching sounds

In RWI phonics, the individual sounds are called ‘speed sounds’ –  because we want your child to read them effortlessly.  Set 1 sounds are the single letter sounds and set 1 special friend sounds. They are taught in the following order;

m, a, s, d, t, i, n, p, g, o, c, k, u, b, f, e, l, h, sh, r, j, v, y, w, th, z, ch, qu, x, ng, nk.

There are 12 Set 2 ‘speed sounds’ that are made up of two or three letters which represent just one sound, e.g.  ay as in play, ee as in tree and igh as in high.  These are known as ‘special friend’ sounds.

When children are taught Set 2 sounds they will learn:

- A simple picture prompt linked to the sound.

- A short phrase to say e.g. May I play?

- The letters that represent a sound (special friends) e.g. ay

Each sound has a list of green words linked to it, so that the children have the opportunity to sound out and blend words containing the new sound they have been taught, for example, s-p-r-ay = spray.

When learning Set 3 speed sounds the children will be taught alternative sounds/graphemes, e.g. ee as in tree and ea as in tea.

 Here is a video showing you how to pronounce each sound.


Nonsense words (Alien words) 

As children build up their knowledge of sounds they are able to apply their decoding skills to any unfamiliar word, whether it be real or nonsense.  During lessons each day children will practice their decoding skills by sounding out nonsense words.  Children are unable to rely on existing knowledge of real words, and instead have to use their letter-sound knowledge. This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Check that the children complete at the end of year 1.

Learning to blend and Ditty Books

As soon as children have been taught a few initial letter sounds they begin to learn to blend the sounds together to read real words in a Word Time session.  Each word time session involves oral blending of known sounds before they are shown the words written down on green cards.  Children practice Fred talking the words until they become able to read them on sight.  Ditty lessons follow on from this where children who are becoming excellent at reading single words are introduced to reading short sentences.  Once children are confident reading the short sentences they are challenged to use their developing phonic knowledge to write a sentence.

Storybook Lessons 

After ditty sheets, the next stage is storybooks. These books are closely matched to the children’s developing phonic knowledge.  The storybooks consist of green words linked to the sounds that they have been learning, red words and challenge words to extend the children’s vocabulary.  After children have practiced these words individually they are prepared to see them in context in the story.

Comprehension activities, partner discussion and writing activities based on the book, follow on from reading.

Reading into writing

Each story book follows a three - day plan that includes writing activities. 

Writing activities include;

- 'Hold a sentence' which encourages children to remember a whole sentence while focusing on spelling and punctuation. 

- 'Build a sentence' which gives children the opportunity to create their own sentence to show the meaning of a word.

- 'Edit a sentence' which allows children to critique a sentence using their knowledge of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Parental Workshops

Parents are invited into school on a regular basis to take part in workshops and for staff to share information regarding phonics and early reading strategies in school. Parents are kept up to date with how their children are progressing through the sounds and phases half termly, enabling them to practice sounds with their children at home.

Here are some resources from our latest parental workshop:

Introduction to Read, Write, Inc.

Reading at home booklet

Frequently asked questions



 Here are some websites which you can use at home to support your child's learning in Phonics. 

Read Write Inc. Guide for Parents

RWI films for parents/ carers

Free Reading Books

Phonics Bloom

Phonics Play