Phonics at Willows Academy


Phonics is the way in which we teach the children to read and write. It allows the children to match the spoken sounds (phonemes) to the individual or groups of letters that we use to write them (graphemes).

English can be a complicated language and each sound often has more than one way of writing it, for example e, ee, ea e-e, y can all make the same sound. In our phonics lessons, we concentrate on learning the graphemes most commonly used when reading and writing.

At Willows Academy, we use a system called Read Write Inc. RWI works by connecting each sound to a picture and saying. These work as memory aids for the children, giving them a hook to remember what each sound looks like in its written format. RWI is taught in 3 sets.

  • Set 1 concentrates on the letters of the alphabet and a few special friends (2 or 3 letters that make 1 sound).
  • Set 2, introduces one way of reading/writing the other common sounds that have 2 or 3 letters.
  • Set 3, shows the children a different way of reading and writing the sounds that they have already learnt.


The RWI sessions are delivered daily to nursery, reception, Year 1 and in the autumn term for Year 2. Children are assessed each half term and then grouped according to their need. If children need to have continued support in phonics after Year 2, then they will also be assessed and interventions groups or activities provided.

The RWI session

  • The first part of each session, the speed sound session, introduces the new sound for that day and gives the children opportunity to practise using it by reading and spelling words that contain that sound. It also allows children to re-cap previous sounds they have learnt, to help embed them.
  • The second part of the session is focus purely on reading. The children work with a partner to read a book together, one being the teacher and pointing to the words and the other reading. They take it in turns with the adults supporting where needed. The books do not contain any new sounds or words that they cannot read, as the aim is to enable children to practise recognising the sounds that they know in words and help to increase their fluency.
  • Each book is read 3 days in a row. Again, this is to help children build up their recognition of sounds and words, which should help them, read the book at a faster pace. This helps with both their fluency and their comprehension as they can concentrate on the meaning of the story rather than concentrating on sounding the words out.

What RWI looks like at Willows Academy


In nursery, we teach the children how to say the sound correctly, without showing them the letters. We practise oral blending with them, breaking words down in to syllables or sounds and seeing in they can put them back together again to say the word e.g. el-e-phant or c-a-t. This is an important skill needed later on when they start reading.



When the children reach reception, they begin to have a 20-minute daily speed sound session, where they learn a new sound every day. We continue to practise our oral blending skills and then start to teach the children how to blend letters together to read simple two and three letter words.

Once the children are beginning to blend, they will receive a book to take home to practise.

Once they are secure in blending two and three letter words the children then then take part in the reading section of the RWI lesson, as well as the speed sound session.

By the end of reception, we will have introduced the children to all of the set 1 and set 2 sounds.


Year 1

In year 1, the children will continue to take part in daily speed sound and reading sessions. They will work on embedding the set 2 sounds, making sure that they can recognise and read them in words. Once secure they are then introduced to the set 3 sounds. These can take a bit more time to learn, as the children have to now understand that the same sound can be written in different ways and begin to recognise these alternative ways of reading and writing them.


At the end of year 1, the children will sit the national phonics screening test. Here they are asked to read 40 words containing a mixture of the sounds that they have been taught over the last 2 years.


Year 2

By now, the children should know all of the sounds, so year 2 is all about fluency. The children continue to have a daily speed sound and reading session in the autumn term. This is to enable them to develop the speed of reading that is expected by the end of Key Stage 1. The RWI books become longer and more challenging with the children expected to be able to read many more words on sights and being able to sound out words in their heads, for words that they do not recognise. There is also an emphasis on comprehension, as this is also an important skill that they children need to develop in Year 2.


If you would like to find out any more information about phonics and Read Write Inc. please don’t hesitate to ask. Here are a few websites that you could look at, that provide further information


There is also a Ruth Miskin Facebook and Twitter page