Phonics & Learning to Read

At Hensingham Primary School we use the Read Write Inc Phonics programme to support children with learning to read. Children complete daily lessons focusing on their Speed sounds, they learn how to blend sounds together and then learn to apply this knowledge by reading a range of books which are carefully matched to their phonics knowledge.

This booklet explains the process in more detail and how lessons and grouping work within our school. Within it, there are lots of tips and ideas which you can use at home to support early reading skills as well as some links below to websites which you might find useful.

Read Write Inc Parent Information Booklet

Teach your Monster to Read

RWI How to pronounce the Phonics Sounds

RWI Supporting early reading at home

Other RWI Parent Videos


In the Summer of Year 1,  children take part in a National Assessment called the Phonics Screening Check. This assesses the school to make sure that all children are being taught to read correctly and consistently and is explained in more detail in the video below. To support children at home, you should regularly practise the Set 1,2 & 3 Sounds given in the front of every child’s reading record and read regularly at home to help them to quickly spot and become confident in recognising these sounds within texts.

RWI Phonics Screening Check Video

Reading Fluency & Comprehension

Once children can read independently and have completed the Read Write Inc Phonics Programme they will continue to learn to read longer books and explore a wider range of vocabulary. They will be able to choose a ‘levelled’ book from the School Library and progress through the Colour Bands to ensure that continued progression is made. Assessments of Reading Age will be completed each term to ensure that they are reading the right level of books for both challenge and support.


Research shows that children should be reading at a rate or 60 -100 words per minute to be able to fully understand what they read. Before this, their brain is focussing on decoding the word and not necessarily on putting sentences together or understanding meaning, therefore it is important that children read the right level of book to allow accuracy in both fluency and comprehension. It also helps for children to re-read books more than once so that they can be familiar with the words and spend more time taking in the other features of the text.

In school, children complete Whole Class Reading sessions where they learn to explore reading comprehension skills such as retrieval or making predictions called VIPERS stems. These sessions use exciting books with a mixture of independent and modelled reading to explore performance and vocabulary, before children discuss questions and answers about the texts.

To support at home, parents should strongly encourage regular reading and continue to listen to their children’s reading to ensure accuracy and understanding. The VIPERS question stems are given in the link below so you can discuss the story and practise the comprehension skills together.





In school, we also promote a love of reading by encouraging children to take home a ‘Reading for Pleasure’ book of their choice from the School Library. This book does not have to be levelled in any way … it can be an easy, old favourite that they enjoy and want to read again, it can be something they are capable of reading themselves and their peers are reading or it could be something more challenging that they want to look at or have read to them in hope of reading themselves one day. Please discuss these books at home with your child as they may discover a new favourite author or want to discuss what your favourite books are too.

Finally, we use a reward system in school called ‘Strive for Five’ where we encourage children to read at home or at school at least 5 times per week to win a Reading Raffle Ticket. This ticket goes into the final half term draw and they win a fabulous reading prize or brand new book! Please support your child by signing their record each time they read and making notes of any success or improvements made.

Spelling, Punctuation & Grammar

From Year 1, your child will be taught the SPAG skills identified by the National Curriculum. These will be taught in discrete lessons to introduce the skills and then children will be given lots of opportunities to practise and apply these skills in their everyday writing tasks. Children are regularly reminded to use the skills taught, especially before a longer piece of writing, as it is important that children can demonstrate the skills needed to meet their year group expectations independently.

The booklet below explains the SPAG skills in more detail and helps you to understand the terminology which is expected. Support with SPAG at home could be completed as part of your regular reading activities by asking your child to find examples of SPAG in the books they read, such as how many adjectives can you find on this page, can you find an apostrophe for possession or any examples of past tense etc?

SPAG Glossary

In Reception and KS1, children learn spellings as part of their daily Read Write Inc routines. For spelling support at home there will be list of words in the front of your child’s Reading Record which match the book level or colour band for Read Write Inc. These should be practised regularly and parents can further support by asking children to look at the Phonics Chart in their Reading Records to help children identify the right grapheme or letter string.

In KS2, children will learn a new prefix, suffix or letter pattern each week and they should be given 8-10 words to practise at home. Using the look, cover, write, check method is very helpful and this should be encouraged daily to build writing memory of the words needed. Research suggests that using joined-up or cursive handwriting to practise spellings can also aid memory with spelling correctly within everyday writing. Further support could be given by asking children to write the word in a sentence or build word pyramids to help with understanding word structure.

For Years 1-6 there are age appropriate word lists provided within the National Curriculum which children should be able to spell accurately by the end of the academic year. These are provided in the link below for reference at home, along with the other high frequency words which children should be familiar with. There is also an example sheet of how to practise spellings at home and some spelling strategies you could talk about. For more interactive spelling practise and word challenges visit the spelling frame website below.

Spelling Lists and Support Guidance



When your child is learning to write they use the Read Write Inc Letter phrases to help them to remember the correct letter formation. Being able to write letters carefully and accurately also ensures that children can read back through their own work which further reinforces reading skills. Correct formation is vital as it enables them to progress to cursive or joined up handwriting from Year 2. If the formation is incorrect pupils will struggle to join handwriting which is a National Curriculum Objective from Year 2 onwards. This causes many problems as during the writing process the brain will be still be concentrating on individual letters rather than on the words and sentence structures being applied, which in turn slows down progress made and prevents pupils from reaching their true potential.


This video shows the correct formation of letters linked to the RWI Phrases and how you can practise at home.


Your child’s class teacher will complete regular formation assessments to help to support your child further and may send home worksheets or handwriting books for extra support at home.


During literacy sessions, children are given lots of opportunities to orally rehearse their sentences and develop ideas before writing tasks are given. This could be through paired or group discussion, drafting activities individually or as whole class, or through performances such as role play or hot seating. Children will complete smaller writing tasks to ensure SPAG skills are being applied before completing an ‘extended writing’ task each week. Following writing, children build skills in editing their work, such as looking for spelling or punctuation mistakes, and improving their work by thinking of better word choices or sentence structures.



To support at home, you could ask children to practise their writing skills for creating shopping lists, writing cards or invitations and even challenging the family to write a short 100-word story and then working together to improve them. Other ideas could include weekly writing challenges as shown in the picture above … but remember to encourage neat presentation, accurate SPAG use and correct letter formation at all times!


Speaking & Listening

Children might talk a lot but at school we need to teach them the rules of speaking and listening. This includes taking turns and waiting patiently to respond, listening to others and being able to ask appropriate questions about what they have said, and as they get older, how to speak to a particular audience using tone, volume and pace. Some activities for S&L might involve performances, speaking aloud in class, group work or presenting work that pupils have completed but opportunities are built into everyday sessions to practise these skills regularly.

To support children at home, you should encourage turn taking and ask children to slow down or repeat words / sentences that are not clear. Perhaps you could build a family routine of ‘Show and Tell’ where everyone one gets a chance to say something interesting that they have done or learned each day or at the end of the week, and the listeners have to think of a question to respond with to show they that are interested or have been listening!

Children who need further support with S&L might take part in our ‘Talk Boost’ intervention programme. This allows children to speak clearly and ensures that they understand everyday vocabulary. Some children need to develop speech so that they can be better understood by adults and their peers and they may need to see a Speech and Language Therapist to do this. If you are worried about your child’s S&L skills or language development at any point, please speak with their class teacher or contact Wendy Burnie.


In addition to regular reading, your child’s class teacher will provide further work to complete at home. This maybe consolidation or extension activities for skills that have been taught in class, a revision of previous work covered or specific activities which your child might need extra support with. It is important that you complete these activities regularly as this really helps to accelerate progress and prevents gaps between peers i.e. those that do and those that don’t. It also helps to develop good time management skills and routines for secondary school and further education.

Homework will be shared via ClassDojo and is expected to be returned for marking and feedback. If you have any queries or concerns about completing the activities, please speak with your child’s class teacher.

Finally, there are lots of useful tips on the OxfordOwl Website for supporting learning at home for all subjects within the National Curriculum as well as online games and activities to complete. There is also a free eBook library where you can access levelled reading books, additional Read Write Inc Books and a selection of Audio books.


If you require any additional support or advice, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s class teacher who will be happy to help in any way.