Phonics at Halwin School 

 At Halwin, we believe that learning to read and write is a top priority in teaching. Current research shows that children learn to read most effectively when they have learnt securely a range of phonic strategies that enables them to ‘decode’ or sound out words.

These strategies are practised and rehearsed so that they become embedded and enable the child to recall automatically and read fluently. However, this fluent reading is underpinned by a strong foundation of systematic phonic skills.

These skills are taught in a daily, 20 minute,phonics lesson.

 What is 'Phonics'?

Phonics is the word used to describe the sounds the letters make. In simple terms, the word 'cat' can be read from its three sounds: c-a-t. This is not the names of the letters as we say them in the alphabet, but the sounds these letters make. Likewise, the word 'thick' is made up of three sounds: th-i-ck, where pairs of letters combine to make a single sound. Similarly, 'rash' is made up of three sounds: r-a-sh.

Some phonics terminology!

  •  Phoneme: the smallest unit of sound in a word
  •  Grapheme: a letter or group of letters that represents the sound
  • Blending: starting with each separate phoneme and then putting them together to make the word. This is the key skill for reading.
  • Segmenting: starting with the word and then splitting it into the separate phonemes. This is the key skill for spelling.

We understand that children make the best progress as learners when there are excellent links between home and school learning. We provide several opportunities for parents and carers to come into school to learn more about the way the children learn phonics. These ‘Phonics Evenings’ begin in Foundation Stage and continue into Key Stage One.

 At Halwin, we follow Government guidance in relation to the teaching of phonics, using a programme called Read Write Inc.

At the core of the programme is the lively and vigorous teaching of synthetic phonics. Children learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and how to sound-blend words for reading (decoding) at the same time as developing handwriting skills and spelling (encoding). As their confidence in decoding develops they are taught to comprehend and compose ideas for their own writing. The children have the pleasure of reading exciting storybooks perfectly matched to their level – so that they have early success in reading.

The children follow a structured programme of reading and writing activities in small groups. It is a programme designed for children to complete as soon as possible.

Read, Write Inc. has 5 underlying principles – the five Ps:

  1.      PACE – no time is wasted during teaching sessions! Children are active and involved in a fun and creative way. The aim is for the children to complete the programme as quickly as possible.
    2. PRAISE – teachers praise the children constantly throughout the teaching sessions. Children learn more quickly when they are praised for what they do well, rather than nagged for what they do wrong. The children are encouraged to praise each other and as a school we have developed several ‘Praise Phrases’ and ‘Praise actions’. Ask your child to demonstrate!
    3. PURPOSE – each activity has a very clear purpose. The teacher will set this purpose at the beginning of the lesson so that the children know exactly what they will be learning.
    4. PARTICIPATION – all children take part in all parts of the lesson. Full participation is gained through partner work and choral response.
    5. PASSION – as a staff we are passionate about our teaching and the benefits of the Read, Write Inc. programme! We love teaching the sessions and this enthusiasm rubs off onto the children.

For further information please see

Some further useful Phonics websites: