St Mary Magdalene Catholic Primary School


Teach a child to read and keep that child reading and we will change everything.  And I mean everything. (Jean Winterson)

At St Mary Magdalene Catholic Primary School we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is key for academic success and we have a holistic approach to the teaching of reading, where we implement the following:

  • Children take part in daily guided reading lessons, where children are exposed to a range of different texts and can demonstrate their understanding and thinking behind these.
  • Each classroom will have a selection of books which are directly linked with the class topic. This offers opportunities for the children to apply their reading skills across the curriculum.
  • Children are read to each day by their class teacher. This could be a book that the teacher recommends to the class or a recommendation from a child.
  • Each classroom has a reading area that is filled with books suitable for the children’s reading age. This is a comfortable place for children to read throughout the day.

We create an inclusive, inspired and challenging curriculum, which develops children’s knowledge of phonics, enabling them to become successful readers who develop a life-long love of reading. We ensure children in KS1 are given the best opportunity to achieve expected progress, or more, in reading. By the time children leave St Mary Magdalene’s, they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader.


Phonics is taught to pupils in Early Years and KS1 (Year 1 & 2). Where children in Year 3 require additional phonics intervention, teachers or support staff will provide 1:1 support using the Read Write Inc. programme. We passionately believe that with the right support, all children can and will learn to read; we want children to learn to read quickly and accurately and to then keep on reading. Our aim is for children to see reading not only as a task set by teachers in school, but as an activity which provides pleasure and escape from the modern world.


Read Write Inc. Phonics Programme

We use a synthetic phonics programme called ‘Read Write Inc.’ produced by Ruth Miskin. Read Write Inc is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. As part of this, children have daily phonics sessions in small groups where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their developing needs. The teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge.

If needed, children receive additional support to help them on their journey to becoming a confident reader. Within the daily Read Write Inc sessions, children will be encouraged and supported to not only develop their decoding skills, but also their comprehension and fluency skills.

Click here for an overview of the Read Write Inc Phonics programme and here for a useful Parent Guide.


Reading and the Read Write Inc. Programme

Read Write Inc. Phonics teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly, and compose their ideas step-by-step.

Children learn the English alphabetic code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes.

They experience success from the very beginning. Lively phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases.

Along with a thought-provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion, children are helped to read with a storyteller’s voice.

How Read, Write Inc is taught

Fred Talk

We use pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’,’s’ not ‘suh’, etc.) so that your child will be able to blend the sounds into words more easily.

At school we use a puppet called Fred who is an expert on sounding out words!

We call it, ‘Fred Talk’. E.g. m-o-p, c-a-t, m-a-n, sh-o-p, b-l-a-ck.

Click here for a video which models blending sounds with Fred.


The children are taught the sounds in 3 sets

Please click here for the full list of sounds and rhymes.

Step 1:

Set 1 Sounds are taught in the order shown above together with rhymes to help children form the letters correctly and instantly recognise sounds ready for blending.

Please do not use letter names at this early stage.

Click here to hear how to pronounce sounds correctly.

Children will also use pictures for each sound to help recognise the sound and then form the shape of the sound.

Step 2:

The children are then taught Set 2 Sounds - the long vowels.

When they are very confident with all of set 1 and 2 they are taught Set 3 Sounds.

Nonsense words (Alien words)          


As well as learning to read and blend real words children will have plenty of opportunities to apply their sound recognition skills on reading ‘Nonsense words’. These words will also feature heavily in the Year One Phonics Screening check in the summer term. Click here for further information on the Screening check.

Step 3:

Children will be introduced to ‘Ditty books’ when they successfully begin to read single words. The short vowels should be kept short and sharp.

Children use sound-blending (Fred Talk) to read short ditties. They will bring these home once they have read and discussed the book in class. Children will then be challenged to use their developing phonic knowledge to write short sentences.

Within all the books children will have red and green words to learn to help them to become speedy readers. Red words are words that are not easily decodable and challenge words to extend children’s vocabulary. Green words are linked to the sounds they have been learning and are easily decodable.

Step 4:

Children will then move onto and progress through the Storybooks which are shown below.

Parent Workshops

  • introduction to rwi workshop 1.pdf


rwi special friends fred talk read the word workshop 2.pdf


Useful Resources

Oxford Owl Website

Oxford Owl has lots of free Read Write Inc. Phonics resources to help your child continue learning, including eBooks, practice sheets, Ditty sheets, slideshows, and parent films. 

Follow the link:

Useful Websites for Parents

Phonics Play

Teach Your Monster to Read 

ICT Games

Tutorial Videos - Ruth Miskin

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