Reading & Phonics

Phonics and Early Reading at Hurst Park

An Overview


At Hurst Park we use the Read, Write Inc (RWI) programme to teach children early reading and phonic skills in a fun and interactive way.  Through a carefully planned scheme, we teach children how to say, write and spell sounds and words from when they first begin the school.


Phonics is taught daily from the summer term in Nursery, into Reception up to year 2 and, where needed, in KS2. In Nursery, phonics begins with many activities to develop speech, listening and attention.  Set 1 and 2 of RWI are taught in reception, with the remaining sets taught in Years 1 and 2.

Once pupils have completed Read, Write, Inc., they continue to develop their reading fluency and comprehension using age-appropriate texts, in addition to sharing a library book at home.  Children are grouped using half-termly data to ensure pupils read and learn texts matched to their decoding ability.


Year Group Coverage


Nursery: In Nursery, we focus on developing children’s speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts in Reception. The emphasis during this time is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.

Reception: In Reception, the children are first taught set 1 graphemes (letters making sounds). They are introduced one at a time, always building upon their previous learning.

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 that make one sound. For example the ‘sh’ sound in the word ‘ship’ (your child will call these ‘special friends’):

sh  th  ch  qu  ng  nk  ck

The children use the sounds they have learnt to build words to read and spell. Sounds are blended together by saying each sound eg: c-a-t to read cat. They also learn to segment words into sounds to spell such as spotting the c-a-t in the word cat.

By the time they reach Set 2, most children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the graphemes taught in Set 1.

During Set 2, the children will learn the following ‘special friends’ per week alongside a red word.

ay  ee   igh  ow  oo (boo)  oo (look)  ar  or  air  ir  ou  oy

During set 2, the children will spend a lot of time learning about how these sounds are used in words. They will begin to blend and segment these sounds in words, captions and sentences.


Key Stage One


Year 1 When children reach Year 1, they will spend time recapping on Set 1 and 2 to consolidate their phonic knowledge and apply it in their reading and writing. By this stage, most children will be able to represent each of the the42 phonemes with a grapheme.  They will blend phonemes to read CCVC and CVCC words and segment these words for spelling.  They will also be able to read two syllable words that are simple.  They will be able to read all the tricky words learnt so far and will be able to spell some of them. Set 3 will introduce alternate graphemes for sounds already taught in Sets 1 and 2. By this point children are taught that blending is only used when a word is unfamiliar. There is also a focus on the children’s fluency and expression when reading.

You will find a useful phonics audio guide to all these sounds in the Oxford Owl Sound Pronunciation Guide video.–1/phonics-pure-sounds


Year 2 When children reach Year 2, they will spend time recapping on Set 1,2 and 3 to consolidate their phonic knowledge and apply it in their reading and writing. Once the children are reading fluently they move off the RWI programme and begin to focus on spelling rules set out in the Year 2 National Curriculum such as: suffixes, prefixes, contractions, homophones, possessive apostrophes and further alternate spellings.


Key Stage Two


Once the children have become fluent readers and are ready to move off the Read, Write, Inc scheme, the children focus on their comprehension skills through regular whole-class reading sessions.  Within these sessions, teachers model reading strategies during whole class guided reading and ask questions to teach children specific reading skills to widen their vocabulary and develop their comprehension, as outlined in the National Curriculum. The text used for this session might be an extract from a text or a pre-planned written piece by the teacher. The children answer questions, called ‘VIPERS’, that help children to develop a greater understanding of a range of reading materials including fiction, non-fiction and poetry materials.

VIPERS is an acronym which stands for:






All children work on VIPERS during class reading whether this is reading as a class, in a small group or one to one with an adult.



Additional Information

For more guidance and book list suggestions please visit for regular updates of suitable books for key stage two children.



Reading books


All books are carefully matched to your child’s phonic ability and require your child to apply previously taught sounds and vocabulary taught within the RWI phonic group sessions.


From Reception, the children are given a book in the lesson to support the teaching and learning of key sounds and words. This book is shared over a number of days in school and is then taken home as an easily decodable book to share with you. This book should be easy for your child to read to you as it would have been read many times in school. This additional read is to build upon their fluency, expression and confidence.


In addition to this book we will also send home a ‘book- bag book’ that your child will choose. This book is carefully matched to your child’s current reading ability, although it may be more of a challenge than the book used within the teaching lesson.  To promote a love of reading, we also send home a library book for children to share with parents at home that you can read to them.

Once the children complete the RWI phonic scheme, the children move onto an age-appropriate text from their year group library.