St Robert Southwell Phonics and Spellings Learning Journey Statement

Intent- Vision and Aims

At St. Robert Southwell, the teaching of phonics, one of the strands of English is taught through the use of the Read Write Inc. (RWI) phonics scheme. Read Write Inc. is a literacy programme designed and developed by Ruth Miskin, one of the country’s leading authorities on teaching children to read. For more information click here

Starting with our youngest children in Nursery, the programme allows children to learn letter sounds in a systematic way and develops their ability to read accurately and fluently whilst teaching handwriting and spellings, also, to develop each child’s confidence, resilience and engagement in phonics lessons and a love for reading and writing. The children enjoy learning to read and write through praise, participation, purpose, passion and pace with the help of ‘Fred the Frog.’

At St Robert Southwell, we believe that the teaching of phonics and spelling is an integral part of children’s reading and writing development.  We want the children to acquire a wide vocabulary and be able to spell new words. They can do this by effectively applying, both in reading and writing, the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time in primary school.

We ensure a breadth and coverage of all the National Curriculum spelling requirements for each year group, making useful links to the word, sentence and punctuation objectives from the National Curriculum 2014 English Appendix 2.


At the end of the Reception year, each child is assessed on their letter recognition and reading, to ensure that phonics sessions can start in the second week of the new academic year for Year 1. After the assessment, any gaps in phonic knowledge, comprehension, or reading fluency will be used to assign each child to their own small, exclusive group for regular sessions with a trained member of staff using Read Write Inc. methods. These groups are organised according to the children’s specific needs, and the specific sounds, letters and comprehension skills needed in a secure and engaging way.

As children progress through the levels, they are regularly assessed to ensure they are placed in groups most appropriate for them. For children who need further support with their phonic knowledge, interventions are in place. Alternatively, children may also be ‘fast-tracked’ to a more-able group when their progress warrants this.

The Read Write Inc. sessions last between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the year group, and includes a variety of activities delivered with pace and rigour. Children have the opportunity to learn sounds which are reinforced during the sessions with reading activities and spelling games, where the learning is put into practise.

In Nursery, children focus on developing their listening skills through stories, games, play and songs, to learn about environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration and oral blending and segmenting.  At the end of the Autumn term, children are taught a sound a week, following the order of letters in RWI, learning the sound, corresponding picture and letter formation rhyme. Throughout the week they will then practise saying, reading and writing that sound during child initiated learning.

In Reception after the initial sound assessment, the children are taught a sound a day and practise saying, reading and writing the sounds in class forming each of those sounds correctly, even if the children recognise them. This is because Reception children are all taught together in their classroom until the end of the Autumn term, when they are then put into their exclusive groups. They then begin to apply their phonic knowledge, learning to blend and segment the sounds in order to read and write words. Within RWI sessions they also participate in a range of gross and fine motor activities in order to develop muscles needed for forming letters.

Year 1 have daily phonics sessions, so that all the children can access Set 1, 2 and 3 sounds. Throughout the RWI programme children also focus on spoken language, reading comprehensions, writing (transcription; handwriting; composition; vocabulary, punctuation, grammar and spellings (SPaG).

There are five key principles that underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. sessions:

  1. Participation – As they are in small groups, children participate fully in every session. They are able to maintain high levels of concentration and so do not miss key elements of teaching.
  2. Praise – Children work together as partners. They take turns to teach and praise each other. They are motivated by praise from their teachers and teaching assistants.
  3. Pace – Sessions are fast paced and lively. This keeps every child fully engaged and on task.
  4. Purpose – Every instructor has been trained in the Read Write Inc. methods. They know the purpose of each activity and how it leads into the next.
  5. Passion – Instructors too become passionate about their teaching as they see the children enjoying the progress they are making.

Spelling lessons form part of daily reading sessions and also as stand-alone spelling sessions to directly teach the rule. We split the statutory requirements into overviews with weekly lists of ten spelling words each linked to one spelling rule, as well as including a few exception or statutory words, per week.

We use a range of activities and programmes, such as ‘Cover, Say, Write, Check’, mnemonics, Spelling Frames, Reading Eggs, and other interactive games as an additional spelling material to revise and reinforce spelling patterns for all different types of learners. These resource are also intended to support teachers in teaching spelling systematically and enjoyably, in ways which help pupils to develop a positive perspective on themselves as spellers. All activities are ideal for reinforcement within the classroom or as a home learning task.

Children in Years 1-2, are given ‘exception words’ in which they are required to spell. The ‘exception words’ contain GPCs which have not yet been taught as widely applicable, but this may be because they are applicable in very few age appropriate words rather than because they are rare in English words in general.

The word-lists for years 3 and 4 and years 5 and 6 are statutory. The lists are a mixture of words pupils frequently use in their writing and those which they often misspell. Some of the listed words may be thought of as quite challenging, but the words in each list can easily be taught within the four years of key stage 2 alongside other words that teachers consider appropriate.

Home Learning

To support our implementation of phonic, we encourage and celebrate parental engagement. Children find it easier to learn to read and spell if they are taught pure sounds. The following video link, supports you to make sure the correct pure sounds are used with your child at home. This is important for all year groups from Nursery to Year 2.

 In Year 1, your child will be given a weekly list of words linked to their specific group. It also indicates where your child is in the programme and where they will be progressing onto.

Ruth Miskin also suggest that children gain a great deal from knowing a small number of stories very well. Familiarity with stories can help children to understand how stories are structure and the different kind of genre they may encounter. As a result, read favourite stories again with them. Read some stories at a higher level than they can read themselves. If an adult reads first, it will give the child the confidence for when they read, as they will know what to expect in the story and they can enjoy the story with you first. This also gives the children the exposure to words that they have not yet learnt. It is also important to listen to them reading their school storybooks. Finally, practise reading a range of words containing sets 1, 2 and 3 sounds.

If you would like to practice their letter formation, Read Write Inc. have rhymes for each letters to help the children shape them correctly.

Set 1 Sounds are taught in the following order:

m a s d t, i n p g o, c, k, ck u b, f e l h sh, r j v y w, th z ch qu x ng nk, kn

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 vowelsound Set 2 Sounds Set 3 Sounds 
ay ay: may I play? a-e: make a cake ai: snail in the rain
ee ee: what can you see? ea: cup of tea e-e: go Pete and Steve e: he me we she be
igh igh: fly high i-e: nice smile ie: terrible tie
ow ow: blow the snow o-e: phone home oa: goat in a boat
oo oo: poo at the zoo u-e: huge brute ew: chew the stew ue: come to the rescue!
oo oo: look at a book  
ar ar: start the car  
or or: shut the door aw: yawn at dawn au: Paul the astronaut…
air air: that’s not fair are: share and care
ir ir: whirl and twirl ur:  nurse with a purse er: a better letter
ou ou: shout it out ow: brown cow
oy oy: toy for a boy oi: spoil the boy
ire   ire: fire fire!
ear   ear: what can you hear?
ure   ure: sure it’s pure?

It is also advisable to attend meetings and workshops during the academic year, to discuss how to effectively support your child, especially leading up to the screening check.

In KS1 and KS2, weekly phonics and spelling homework are sent home for the children to practise to enable regular practise of these skills. These are based upon the rules being taught in the classroom and provide a way for parents to support their child’s learning at home.

Parents are offered phonics workshops to support their child at home, as well as resources and techniques to support their children with spellings.

  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6
Common Exception words and Statutory Spelling words the, a, do, to, today, of, said, says, are, were, was, is, his, has, I, you, your, they, be, he, me, she, we, no, go, so, by, my, here, there, where, love, come, some, one, once, ask, friend, school, put, push, pull, full, house, our   door, floor, poor, because, find, kind, mind, behind, child, children, wild, climb, most, only, both, old, cold, gold, hold, told, every, everybody, even, great, break, steak, pretty, beautiful, after, fast, last, past, father, class, grass, pass, plant, path, bath, hour, move, prove, improve, sure, sugar, eye, could, should, would, who, whole, any, many, clothes, busy, people, water, again, half, money, Mr, Mrs, parents, Christmas  accident, accidentally, actual, actually, address, answer, appear, arrive, believe, bicycle, breath, breathe, build, busy. Business, calendar, certain, circle, complete, continue, decide, describe, difficult, disappear, eight, eighth, enough, extreme, favourite, February, forward, heard, heart, height, fruit, grammar, group, guard, guide, interest, island, learn, library, minute, notice, occasion, occasionally, often, opposite, ordinary, particular, possible, pressure, probably, promise, regular, reign, remember, special, strange, suppose, surprise,  woman, women caught, centre, century, consider, difference, early, earth, exercise, experience, experiment, famous, history, imagine, increase, important, knowledge, length, material, medicine, mention, natural, naughty, peculiar, perhaps, popular, possess, possession, potatoes, purpose, quarter, question, recent, sentence separate, straight, strength, therefore, though, although, thought, through, various, weight conscious, vegetable, symbol, physical, system, rhythm, vehicle, occupy, rhyme, bruise, soldier, stomach, recommend, yacht, guarantee, leisure, privilege, equipment, environment, government, parliament, occur, frequently, neighbour, community, curiosity, forty, category, according, opportunity, sincere, interfere, harass, definite, secretary, dictionary, familiar aggressive, awkward, desperate, disastrous, marvellous, available, average, attached, relevant, competition, excellent, existence, conscience, controversy, correspond, embarrass, especially, temperature, variety, exaggerate, suggest, lightning, foreign, apparent, appreciate, achieve, convenience, mischievous, persuade, individual, committee, language, interrupt, interfere, sufficient, determined, explanation, cemetery, necessary, sacrifice, hindrance, nuisance, prejudice, pronunciation, accommodate,  accompany, signature, programme, shoulder

Impact – Outcomes

At St. Robert Southwell, the impact of using the RWI phonics programme, as the basis of our phonics teaching within EYFS and KS1, will be for children to develop their phonics skills and knowledge through a systematic, synthetic approach, while covering the statutory requirements outlined in the National Curriculum. It gives us a consistent approach to phonics, which are clear to teaching staff and learners.

The average child will aim to finish the RWI programme by the end of Year 1. Following the RWI programme also prepares the Year 1 children for the phonics screening test at the end of the academic year. The test is a statutory phonics screening test assessment, that has to be administered by all maintained schools, academies, free schools, pupil referral units and maintained nursery schools with registered children who will reach the age of six before the end of the school year.

Those children who are not ready to come off the RWI programme will continue to progress through it until they reach the required standards to go into class English sessions.

If a child reaches Year 4 and is still not working at age related expectation in English and cannot access the whole English lessons, they will be assessed under the Ruth Miskin Fresh Start programme. This is a continuation of the RWI programme suitable for older children

Monitoring of spelling occurs throughout the year following the Target Tracker monitoring plan. Children are also assessed on the year group specific spellings, every half term, using Rising Stars.  Feedback is given to staff to highlight areas of improve and identify children that may require additional support.

Phonics Screening outcomes:

Year Year1 Year2
2016 95% (National 81%) 97% (National 91%)
2017 89% (National 81%) 97% (National 91%)
2018 91% (National 82%) 100% (National 92%)
2019 93% (National 82%) 93% (National 91%)

In October 2016, St Robert Southwell received a letter from Nick Gibbs MP (then Minister of State for School Standards), regarding our impressive phonics results, taking our school into the top 8% of all primary schools in the country.



In Key Stage 1, particularly in Year 1, there is focus on the progression of phonics skills with children being taught in groups to match their ability. With daily phonic sessions, the children have the opportunity to revisit previous learning, practise and apply new skills in structured but engaging ways. By the time the children are reaching the end of Year 2, they have listened to and studied a range of quality stories from traditional and modern authors.

A mixture of reading approaches are used in St  Robert Southwell to give the children the opportunity to develop the skills to become independent readers. Guided reading is used in small groups. Whole class teaching of the different skills are also taught through the study of carefully selected quality class texts.

Home Learning

Reading at home is a key element in supporting children with their reading progress.

Children are able to choose books that come from a levelled scheme to ensure progression. In Key Stage 2, the children are encouraged to become more independent and take responsibility for answering questions in their journals that focus on developing vocabulary and comprehension.


By the time the children leave St Robert Southwell;

  • They will have become enthusiastic and motivated readers who are confident in reading a variety of genres and text types
  • They will have the skills to decode words in order to be able to read fluently with a secure understanding of what they have read
  • They will have been inspired by literature and will read for enjoyment and pleasure