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Much Birch Church of England Primary School

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At Much Birch Primary, we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a successful start with their reading and writing skills.  RWInc is a method of learning centred on letter sounds and phonics.  We use the programme to aid children in their reading and writing.


Reading opens the door to learning.  A child who is read to develops a love of reading. A child who reads a lot will become a good reader. A good reader will be able to read more challenging material.  A child who reads challenging material is a child who will learn.  The more a child learns, the more he or she will want to find out.

Using RWInc, the children learn to read successfully. The structured, progressive scheme allows children to learn easily and quickly, developing their self-esteem and a positive disposition towards learning. It also aids their ability to spell words so that they can put all their energy into composing what they write.

When using RWInc to read, the children will:

  • learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter / letter groups using simple picture prompts;
  • learn to read words using Fred Talk;
  • read lively stories featuring words they have learned to sound out;
  • show that they comprehend the stories by answering questions. 

When using RWInc to write, the children will:

  • learn to write the letters / letter groups which represent 44 sounds;
  • learn to write words by saying the sounds in Fred Talk;
  • write simple sentences.


This video, taken from the Ruth Miskin website, explains the scheme in more detail:

Parent video: What is Read Write Inc Phonics?

Parent video: What is Read Write Inc Phonics – Bi ng video

Teaching phonics at Much Birch Primary


We start teaching the programme in your child’s Reception year and then continue until they have worked their way through the whole reading scheme, which is usually during Year 1 and Year 2.  Phonics is taught in Reception and Y1 as a whole class. In Y2 for the first term the teacher revises the set 2 and set 3 sounds with the whole class and those children who did not pass the phonic screening have additional daily interventions. At the end of the Autumn term the Y2 teacher assesses the cohort to see what future teaching of phonics is needed. At Much Birch we want the children to be confident and speedy at recalling phonics to use in their reading and writing. We assess all children on the scheme every 6-8 weeks.  This allows us to quickly identify any children who need some support to access the learning at the level of the class/group. If this arises, we provide small group interventions.  Groups are taught by either teachers or TAs who have had Read Write Inc phonics training.


Children begin by learning the Set 1 Sounds in a specific order.  After learning the first 5 sounds, the children begin to blend sounds together to make words.  Then, as soon as they can blend independently, the children will progress on to reading green words. We follow a school phonics progression plan and teach following the RWI handbook. Children read green words and red words (words that cannot be read phonetically).


Children use their phonics in their writing. Writing is through a range of contexts for a variety of purposes such as lists, labels, reports, recounts, narrative and poems. We do not follow RWI for the writing element. We use our knowledge of the children and through regular assessment teach writing skills according to their needs and interests.  



Types of Sounds


Pure Sounds:   

When teaching the speed sounds, it is very important that you do not add an intrusive ‘uh’ to the end of the consonant sound.  Try to pronounce them as pure sounds: ‘mmmm’ not ‘muh’; ‘ffff’ not ‘fuh’ and ‘llll’ not ‘luh’


Bouncy and Stretchy Sounds:

To help your child remember his or her sounds, we say that some sounds make a stretchy sound and some make a bouncy sound.


Stretchy Sounds are said in one continuous sound, e.g. mmmmmmmm as in mountain. 

Bouncy Sounds are said with a short, sharp gap in between, e.g. d-d-d as in d-d-d-dinosaur.


Sound Blends:

Your child is ready to sound blend once they have learned the first set of sounds and can say these in and out of order.  In school, we call blending and segmenting 'Fred Talk'.  Children may use their 'Fred Fingers' to do this!

Parent video: How to say the sounds - Bing video

Parent video: Reading the digraphs with your child - Bing video

Parent video: Reading the bouncy sounds with your child - Bing video



Red and Green Words:


Red words are those words which contain spelling patterns that cannot be sounded out.  Some of the most frequently used words in the English Language have an uncommon spelling pattern and don’t sound like they look, for example, 'said' sounds ‘sed’.


Red words have to be learned by sight.  In the RWI books these words are printed in red.  Learning to read red words is a very important part of reading and one which you can help with at home.  You will get a list of red words from your class teacher.  They must be read on sight and remember, ‘You can’t Fred a Red’.


Green words are words that your child will be able to blend together using the speed sounds they have learned.

Your child will be able to read a book more easily if they practise reading these words first.

How to Help at Home


Read to your child

Even if your child is not yet reading words, it is so important to read stories to them.  The film below explains the benefits of reading to your child:

Parent video: Why read to your child?

Parent video: Why read to your child? - Bing video

There are also some things to think about when reading to your child:

Parent video: 10 things to think about when you read to your child


Fred Talk

To expose your child to the idea of blending sounds together to make words, break down the words of the simple vocabulary you often use at home.  For example:

 “Please pass me that c - u - p."

“Let’s sit on the r - u - g."

This will help your child to practise their oral blending as they can repeat the sounds back to you and then say the word. 


Building Vocabulary

Children need a rich vocabulary in order to develop high levels of comprehension.  The more words your child has in their vocabulary, the more they will understand when they read.  You could try using alternative words for things at home, rather than saying you are pleased that they have tidied their toys, you could say that you are delighted, ecstatic, overjoyed. 


Reading with your child

Your child will bring home reading books to share with you:

  • A phonics sheet or a Phonics Book
    This sheet/book has been selected for your child to read to you. It contains sounds and high frequency sight words that your child has been working on in class.

  • A reading for pleasure book (coloured book band book)

         This book is for your child to share and enjoy with someone at home.  The aim of this book is:

          • to promote a love of reading

          • to provide your child access to a greater range of texts

          • to expose them to a wider range of vocabulary than they can read independently.


When helping your child to decode words at home, it’s really important to pronounce the sounds correctly.  Here is a helpful guide to show you how we are teaching your child to pronounce the sounds:


Parent video: How to say the sounds

What is the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check?


The Phonics Screening Check is taken individually by all children in England, in June of Year 1.  It is designed to give teachers, parents and carers information on how your child is progressing in phonics.  It will help to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.


The check consists of 40 words and non-words that your child will be asked to read, one-to-one, with a teacher.  Non-words (or 'nonsense' words or 'alien' words) are a collection of letters that will follow the phonics rules your child has been taught, but don’t mean anything – your child will need to read these with the correct sounds in order to show that they understand the phonics rules behind them.


The 40 words and non-words are divided into two sections – one with simple word structures of three or four letters, and one with more complex word structures of five or six letters.  The teacher administering the check with your child will give them a few practice words to read first – including some non-words – so they understand more about what they have to do.  Each of the non-words is presented with a picture of a monster / alien, as if the word was their name (and so your child doesn't think the word is a mistake because it doesn't make sense!).


There is more information for parents on the Oxford Owl WebsitePhonics Screening Check Information


RWInc Glossary:






Fred is a frog puppet we use in sessions.  He can only speak in sounds. 

Fred Talk 


Sounding out a word, saying each of the sounds before blending, e.g., c-u-p.



Fred Fingers


‘Pinching’ each sound from a word on your fingers to help spell a word.

Green words


Decodable words


Red words


Irregular words that cannot be sounded out


Story Green words


Decodable words that will be included in the storybook 

Speedy Green words


Decodable words in the storybook that children should be able to read at speed rather than Fred Talking first. 




Fred in your Head


Still sounding out a word but doing so in your head rather than out loud, helps build fluency. 


Special friends


Two or three letters working together to make one sound e.g. sh, ch, igh, air, a-e, i-e. 


Much Birch School Parent Information

Phonics teaching in Reception- parent information morning

Parents invited in to see a phonics lesson in action, taught by the teacher.

Observation of how to engage children through a variety of fun, interactive and a variety of sensory methods.

A good opportunity for parents to ask questions and to network with parents in their child's first year at school.

Phonics at Much Birch

Preparing your child for the Y1 Phonic Screening test

Previous phonic screening tests

Websites to promote phonics teaching