At St. Helen’s Catholic Primary School, we believe that all children should be provided with a curriculum that teaches and helps them to discover and develop their varied given gifts and talents. Therefore, in order to access the curriculum fully, we prioritise reading and writing to also ensure our children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Through daily, systematic and consistent high quality phonics teaching, children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words.


To allow our children to develop a strong phonic awareness and effective blending and decoding skills, we use an approved synthetic phonics programme called Read, Write, Inc. produced by Ruth Miskin. Read Write Inc. is a method of learning centred around letter sounds and phonics, blending sounds together to read and spell words and applying these skills across the curriculum. Using Read Write Inc. the children learn to read fluently so that they can then put all their energy into comprehending what they read. We believe that teaching children to read and write independently is one of the core purposes of a primary school enabling them to access a broad and exciting curriculum to ensure they flourish as learners throughout their time at school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on the children’s independence and self-esteem.

Parent Guide to Read Write Inc.

Read Write Inc. teaches children the sounds in English, the letters they represent and how to form these when writing. Read Write Inc. Phonics includes reading books written using only the letters the children will have learnt at each stage as they progress through the scheme onto the next level. They will also develop a sight vocabulary of a number of separately taught tricky words as they move through the scheme. These are known as red words e.g. hegosaidmyhe.


Speed sounds and Read Write Inc. Stages

We begin to teach phonological awareness from Nursery and in Reception, by teaching the children set 1 sounds.  Children can start blending sounds into words as soon as they know a small group of letters well. Once the children have been taught the first 5 sounds (m, a, s, d, t), they are then taught assisted blending using the sounds that they know.  During lessons, children are taught to hear sounds and blend them together in sequence to make a word.  We start with blending oral sounds, then progress to reading the letters and blending them together to read the word.  In Read Write Inc phonics, the individual sounds are called ‘speed sounds’ because we want children to read them effortlessly! Find out more about how our Phonics Program works by watching the video below:


Video for Parents - What is Read Write Inc Phonics?

Still image for this video

Learning Set 1 Speed Sounds

These are the Set 1 Speed Sounds written with one letter:

m  a  s  d  t  i  n  p  g  o  c  k  u  b  f  e  l  h  r  j  v  y  w  z  x

These are the sounds written with two letters (the children call these ‘special friends’):

sh  th  ch  qu  ng  nk  ck

Parents can check if their child can read these sounds at home using the Sound Pronunciation Video Guide below:

Set 1, Set 2 & Set 3 Sounds Pronunciation Video for Parents & Children

Still image for this video

Learning to blend with Set 1 Speed Sounds

At this stage the children will be learning to read words containing Set 1 Speed Sounds by sound blending. For example:

m-a-t mat, c-a-t cat, g-o-t got, f-i-sh fish, s-p-o-t spot, b-e-s-t best, s-p-l-a-sh splash.

When children are learning to sound blend, parents can help them by watching the Sound Blending Video below to help support their child with sound blending:

Sound Blending Video Support

Still image for this video

Learning Set 2 Speed Sounds


The Set 2 Speed Sounds are:

ay  ee  igh  ow (as in blow)  oo (as in zoo)

oo (as in look) ar  or  air  ir  ou (as in out)  oy

Parents can support their child's learning by checking to see if they can read these sounds. As the children are learning the Set 2 Speed Sounds, parents can help them to complete the Speed Sounds Practice Sheets for the Speed Sounds they have learnt. Practise reading at "Red Ditty" level, then Green level and then Purple level, in order when these books are sent home by the class teacher as they progress through the program.

Learning Set 3 Speed Sounds

These are Set 3 Speed Sounds:

ea (as in tea), oi (as in spoil), a–e (as in cake), i–e (as in smile), o–e (as in home), u–e (as in huge), aw (as in yawn), are (as in care), ur (as in nurse), er  (as in letter), ow (as in brown), ai  (as in snail), oa (as in goat), ew (as in chew), ire (as in fire), ear (as in hear)

ure (as in pure)

When a child is learning Set 3 Speed Sounds, parents can help them to complete the Speed Sounds Practise Sheets for the Speed Sounds they have learnt and read texts at Pink level, then Orange level and then Yellow level, in order.

Reading books with Set 1, 2, and 3 Speed Sounds

Once the children have learnt all three sets of Speed Sounds, they will practise them and read books with words made up of those sounds. At home, they could complete the Speed Sounds Practise Sheets for the Set 3 Speed Sounds. They will also be reading Blue level texts and then the Grey level, in order. 

Parent Phonics Support Materials - Read Write Inc