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Holy Family Roman Catholic Primary School

Through Work, Through Worship, Through Witness


Great Gates Road, Kirkholt, Rochdale, OL11 2DN

(01706) 640480


'Let us carry Jesus in our hearts and bring Him to all those whom we meet.'  Pope Francis

Phonics & Early Reading

At Holy Family, we use the Read Write Inc synthetic phonics programme to teach our children to read. The programme works by teaching the children the sounds for letters and groups of letters, which enable them to decode (break down sounds within words) and encode (blend the sounds together) to read words.  The children learn the English alphabetic code ; the 150+ graphemes that represent 44 speech sounds.  They rapidly learn sounds and the letter, or groups of letters they need to represent them in three sets of Speed Sound Lessons.  Simple and enjoyable mnemonics help all the children  to grasp the letter-sound correspondences quickly, especially those who are at risk of making slower progress or those who are new to learning English.  This learning is taught and consolidated every day.  High frequency words that are not phonetically regular are taught as 'tricky' words (Red words) and are practiced frequently.

Lively phonic books are closely matched to children's increasing knowledge of phonics and 'tricky' words so that, early on, they experience plenty of success.  Repeated readings of the texts support their increasingly fluent decoding.  Thought provoking introductions, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion help children comprehend what they are reading.  Teachers read aloud and discuss picture books with similar themes to those in the story books so children build up background knowledge ready for the next story book.

Children's progress through the programme is outlined here.


Phonics teaching begins in Nursery and follows a specific sequence that allows children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and apply phonic strategies as they progress through the school.  

Children read the story three times.  On the first read, they focus on accurate word reading; the second, on developing fluency; and on the third, comprehension.  FLuency and comprehension increase with each repeated reading.


Children learn to:

  • Read new sounds and review previously taught sounds;
  • sound out the names of characters and unfamiliar words
  • understand he meanings of new words
  • read the story (first read)


Children learn to:

  • read the words in the story speedily
  • track the story, 'jumping in' when the teacher hesitates
  • read the story with increased speed (second read)


Children learn to:

  • predict the outcome, after listening to a story introduction
  • discuss and compare key moments in the story
  • read the story with a storyteller's voice (third read)
  • answer questions about the story
  • read the same story at home
  • build background knowledge, ready to read the next Read Write Inc story book

Support for Parents

In supporting your child to read, Oxford Owl has a helpful site for parents with advice, guidance and resources to use at home:

Oxford Owl

Booklets to support parents when children are learning speed sets 1 & 2 are available below:

Speed Set 1 Parent Guide

Speed Set 2 Parent Guide