Our mission is to teach every child to read and write, and to keep them reading. No exceptions!
At Hexham First we use Read Write inc phonics programme to teach phonics.

What is RWI?

At Hexham First we teach our children early reading through a consistent and systematic phonics programme -  Read, Write, Inc (RWI). RWI is a fast-paced, rigorous and structured phonics programme developed by Ruth Miskin. The RWI programme is fully matched to the aims of new National Curriculum Programme of Study and RWI is designed to help get every child reading fast.


Why are we teaching RWI at Hexham First?

RWI phonics teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They also learn to form each letter, and spell with more accuracy as they apply phonic knowledge.


What does RWI look like at Hexham First?

At Hexham First we have tailored the RWI programme to meet the needs our children and school environment. Our RWI programme consists of 45 minute daily phonic sessions each morning taught by RWI trained teachers and TA’s. Children are currently taught in small groups of up to 15 who have been grouped according to ability in light of phonic assessments. 


What does a typical RWI session look like at Hexham First?

Each RWI session across school school will look similar in structure. Every RWI session begins with a pacey Speed Sound session before moving onto a Story Time Session however Set 1 Speed Sound sessions differ very slighty to Set 2 and Set 3 Speed Sound sessions. The difference is that in a Set 1 Speed Sound session children are taught how to write the letters and will subsequently practise writing the letter. 


Set 1 Speed Sound Session

  • Introduce the focus sound - s
  • Say the sound - sssss -  'slither down the snake'
  • Picture association - sssssnake, ssssnail etc.
  • Read the sound - teacher models writing S
  • Review sounds - review previously taught sounds and spot the new sound
  • Write the letter  - s  - chn practise 'slither down the snake'
  • Speed write - children say and write 3 previously taught sounds 
  • Fred Talk - oral 3/4 words with S - sit/sat/Sam


Learning to blend

  • Blending orally with speed sound cards - s-a-t- sat
  • Blend with speed sound cards - s-a-t  sat


Blending Independently

  • Read phonic green words
  • Read alien words 



  • Spell green words using Fred Talk 


Set 2 & Set 3 Speed Sound Session

  • Say the sound - ay  - Special Friend
  • Read the sound & picture/phrase association - ay - may I play?
  • Review 4/5 previously taught sounds - Can the children spot todays sound in the pack?
  • Read phonics green words  using Fred Talk moving to Fred in your head - 6 words containing the new sound 
  • Read alien words using Fred Talk - 3/4 words containing new sound (assessment for learning)
  • Spelling using Fred Fingers - 2 words with new sound and 2 words with previously taught sounds 


Story Time

Teacher led: 

  • Speed sounds in story book
  • Story Green Words
  • Speedy Green Words
  • Red Words

Partner practice all of above 


All the Read Write Inc. programmes have partner work at their heart allowing children work in pairs and talk together at every stage of the lesson to enhance their spoken language and embed their understanding. When the children are working in pairs they work as Partner 1 and Partner 2. During this time the children take it in turns to read. Partner 1 may be given the role of pointer, in which Partner 1 points under each word with a lollypop stick and Partner 2 reads. Once Partner 2 has read to the end of a page the children will swap roles. This is repeated until the children reach the end of the book. A simple place holder both instructs and reminds the children whether they are Partner 1 or Partner 2 and teachers ensure that partners are changed frequently, this may be daily or weekly. 


Every child reads the text for meaning with three readings of each story to ensure that the story is understood and read with both fluency and expression. This means that the children will read each storybook three times in school before the Storybook comes home. When a child takes home a new storybook they are encouraged to read this daily until their next storybook comes home. Re-reading storybooks enables children to build fluency. By the third read we hope that children will be beginning to use a 'stroytellers' voice (reading with expression). This is explicitly modelled during teacher read alouds. 


  • Day 1: Story introduction, children's first read and read aloud teacher
  • Day 2: Jump in with teacher, children's second read
  • Day 3: Think about the story, third read children and questions to talk about


During partner practice sessions RWI teachers 'shark' children listening into paired reading and supporting where appropriate. When sharking teachers may target  'spotlight' children who have been identified as requiring extra support or similarly those who are excelling and need stretching further. This may be through personalised questioning linked to the text. 


What do children read in RWI sessions?

In a RWI session children will read decodable storybooks that are closely matched to their increased phonic ability. Storybooks are colour coded to reflect progression through the programme. Storybooks are therefore determined by how the children perform in their termly phonic assessments. RWI storybooks include texts in a range of engaging genres such as fairy tales, myths and legends, rhyming stories and familiar settings. There's also a small selection NON-Fiction books  available to ensure breadth across text types and genres. 


How are children assessed?

In September children are assessed using a basline phonics assessment, the children are then placed into small groups according to their phonic ability. We currently have 5 groups of children with the largest group consisting of 15 children. The children are then taught following the RWI programme and are assessed at the end of every term. Termly assessments allow teachers to measure progress and identify 'spotlight children' - those who may require further intervention and support. Allowing us to support the children in keeping up with their peers. Keep up not catch up. 




The children are taught the sounds in 3 sets.


Step 1:

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


Set 1




Down Maisie then over the two mountains. Maisie, mountain, mountain.


Round the apple, down the leaf.


Slide around the snake


Round the dinosaur's back, up his neck and down to his feet.


Down the tower, across the tower,


Down the insects body, dot for the head.


Down Nobby and over the net.


Down the plait, up and over the pirates face.


Round the girls face, down her hair and give her a curl


All around the orange


Curl around the caterpillar


Down the kangaroos body, tail and leg


Down and under the umbrella, up to the top and down to the puddle


Down the laces, over the toe and touch the heel


Down the stem and draw the leaves


Slice into the egg, go over the top, then under the egg


Down the long leg


Down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back


Slither down the snake, then down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back


Down the robot's back, then up and curl


Down his body, curl and dot


Down a wing, up a wing


Down a horn, up a horn and under the yak's head.


Down, up, down, up the worm.


Down the tower, across the tower, then down the horse’s head to the hooves and over his back


Zig-zag-zig, down the zip.


Curl around the caterpillar, , then down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back


Round the queen’s head, up to her crown, down her hair and curl


Cross down the arm and leg and cross the other way


A thing on a string


I think I stink

Please do not use letter names at this early stage.

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.


Long  vowel sound

Set 2 Speed Sound cards

Teach these first

Set 3 Speed Sound cards


ay: may I play

a-e: make a cake

ai: snail in the rain


ee: what can you see

ea: cup of tea

e: he me we she be


igh: fly high

i-e: nice smile


ow: blow the snow

o-e: phone home

ao: goat in a boat


oo: poo at the zoo

u-e: huge brute

ew: chew the stew


oo: look at a book




ar: start the car




or: shut the door

aw: yawn at dawn



air: that’s not fair

are: share and care



ir: whirl and twirl

ur: nurse for a purse

er: a better letter


ou: shout it out

ow: brown cow



oy: toy for a boy

oi: spoil the boy




ire: fire fire!




ear: hear with your ear




ure: sure it’s pure?



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. 

Red and green words

Red words are words that are not easily decodable and challenge words to extend children’s vocabulary. These are introduced in the weekly phonics lessons and sent home as spellings. 

Green words are linked to the sounds they have been learning and are easily decodable.



Here is a link to the red words if you would like to practise them


 To help at home:

In reception your child will bring home a picture book which focuses on using the illustrations to tell a story using story language. When they have been taught the step 1 sounds and are beginning to blend they will take home a book they can decode. Please help them to read and give lots of praise! 

In year 1 and 2 they take home books closely matched to their phonic knowledge, plus a library to share at home with their parents for pleasure.

In years 3 and 4 they choose a book that is banded according to their reading level.

Here is a chart showing the correlation between phonics books and book banded books.


Phonics Screening Check Year One

What is the Year 1 phonics screening check?

The Year 1 phonics screening check is a short, light-touch assessment to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard.

It will identify the children who need extra help so they are given support by their school to improve their reading skills. They will then be able to retake the check so that schools can track pupils until they are able to decode.

Further information will be added in the Spring term. If you have any questions see Miss Barton. 

Useful websites for Parents

Please find a list of websites that you may find useful in helping you and your child  learn about phonics. Games and fun activity websites are also included. - Games and information for parents - many games to play - fun games for the children to play  - fun games for the children to play  - fun games for the children to play and information for parents  - fun games for the children to play  - fun games for the children to play

BBC Bitesize - many games to play covering all areas of the curriculum