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Phonics Information

At Farne Primary School we strive to teach children to read effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. phonics programme (RWI) which includes teaching synthetic phonics, sight vocabulary, decoding and encoding words as well as spelling and accurate letter formation.


We passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently, as quickly as possible, is one of the core purposes of a primary school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to unlocking the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances. Using the RWI phonics programme we teach children to:


  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding.
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.


Phonics in Nursery

In Nursery the children will begin their phonics journey through pre-phonics activities and teaching with our experienced staff. Pre-phonics skills include developing children’s listening, vocabulary and speaking skills. In order for children to be ready for pre-phonics they need to have early communication skills, developed through daily speaking and listening with those around them. These skills will include:


  • Understanding simple words, sentences and conversations.
  • Talking using words and sentences. This is often called ‘expressive language’.
  • Saying speech sounds correctly so they can be understood by others.
  • Knowing how to use their language socially. For example, listening as well as talking, or talking to a teacher differently than to a friend. This is often called ‘pragmatic language’.


Children will develop these communication skills when they are engaged regularly with adults modelling good listening and speaking, listening to songs and rhymes and being given opportunities to share their understanding.


They will learn their core communication skills from the adults that are in their lives the most i.e. parents and carers alongside adults in school. It is very important that adults model the kind of speaking and listening skills we want children to develop.


  • Listen to encourage talkinglisten without interruptions, focusing on what is being said, give waiting time for responses.
  • Model good listeningmake eye contact, ask questions, comment on what has been said.
  • Provide a model for good speakinguse new vocabulary to help extend language, speak in clear simple sentences, repeat back speech adding new words or more detail.


Pre-phonics skills can be developed from a young age at home and at school. Some examples of these include:


  • Environmental sounds – to raise children’s awareness of the sounds around them and to develop their listening skills e.g. recognising a siren, doorbell or phone ringing.
  • Instrumental sounds – to develop children’s awareness of sounds made by various instruments and noise makers.
  • Body percussion – to develop children’s awareness of sounds and rhythms (e.g. clapping and stamping).
  • Rhythm and rhyme – to develop children’s appreciation and experiences of rhythm and rhyme in speech e.g. reading rhyming stories and singing nursery rhymes.
  • Alliteration – to encourage children to distinguish initial sounds in words e.g. Ben buzzed around like a busy bee.
  • Voice sounds – to distinguish between different vocal sounds and to hear separate sounds.
  • Oral blending and segmenting – to recognise individual letter sounds and hearing that d-o-g makes ‘dog’.


By regularly engaging with games, songs and activities linked to these areas children will develop their listening skills, their awareness of sounds and phonetics. It should always be fun and children will get much more out of it if they are excited to do the activity – the more enthusiasm you bring, the more they will reciprocate.


When they have mastered these skills, they are ready to begin phonics. In the Summer Term the children in Nursery who are ready will begin to learn the first Set 1 sounds in the Read Write Inc phonics programme.


Phonics in Reception

In Reception we use Read Write Inc ‘Making a Strong Start’ to ensure all of our children are given the best possible start to their phonics journey at our school.


For more information about how phonics is taught in Reception and across our school please visit our Phonics section on our website.


At the start of the Autumn Term parents and carers will be invited to a meeting in school to find out more about how phonics is taught in the Early Years, how parents and carers can support at home and also give the opporunity for parents and carers to ask any questions.  

Parent Video: Understanding Phonics

Parent Video: Why read to your child?