Systematic synthetic phonics

At Westgarth, we use Read Write Inc Phonics (RWI) to give your child the best possible start with their reading and writing.

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read and write by blending and segmenting individual sounds. Every letter, and different combinations of letters, make particular sounds. For example, the letter ‘s’ makes a hissing sound, like a snake.


What is Read Write Inc?

RWI was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information on this can be found by clicking here.

RWI is a phonics programme which helps children to learn to read fluently and at speed, so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. The programme is designed for children aged 4-7, however, at Westgarth, we begin the programme in Nursery and continue teaching RWI beyond the age of 7 if they need further support in their reading.


How is RWI taught?

Phonics is taught in small groups of 10-12 children. All children are assessed regularly so they work with children at the same level, allowing complete participation in lessons.



The children:

  • learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letters/letter groups using simple picture prompts
  • learn to read words using Fred talk and sound blending
  • learn to isolate different sounds in a word. We use a dot under letters where one letter makes one sound and a line under digraphs or trigraphs.
  • read from a range of storybooks and non-fictions books matched to their phonic knowledge
  • work well with partners
  • develop comprehension skills in stories by answering ‘Find It’ and ‘Prove It’ discussion questions.



The children:

  • learn to write and form the letters/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds with the help of fun phrases
  • learn to write words by using Fred Talk
  • learn to build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write



The children work in pairs so they:

  • answer every question
  • practise every activity with their partner
  • take turns in talking and reading to each other
  • develop ambitious vocabulary


Key terms and phrases

  • Phoneme – a single unit of sound
  • Grapheme – How a sound is written using letters (e.g. ‘u’ in ‘book’ is written using ‘oo’)
  • Digraph – two letters make one sound (e.g. sh, ch, ai, ea, ou, ow)
  • Trigraph – three letters make one sound (e.g. igh, ear, air, ure)
  • Split digraph – two letters make one sound but the letters have been split apart by another letter
  • Segment – to break down the word into its individual sounds to spell (e.g cat can be split into the sounds c-a-t.)
  • Blend – to put or merge the sounds together to make a word (e.g. the sounds d-o-g are blended to the word ‘dog’)
  • Fred Talk – Teachers will introduce your child to a toy frog called Fred once he or she is ready to start reading words.

Fred can only say the sounds in a word and needs your child to help him read the word. Fred will say the sounds and children will work out the word. For example, Fred will say the sounds c–a–t, and children will say the word cat. This is Fred Talk: sounding out the word.