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Through our chosen Systematic Synthetic Phonics scheme, Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS), children experience systematic, synthetic phonics taught with fidelity, consistency and continuity through EYFS to Year 2. The daily phonics session in each year group follows the review, teach, practice and apply method of teaching, providing opportunities for children to recap and over learn phonics to embed long term learning. 


Essential Letters and Sounds exceeds the expectations of the National Curriculum and Early Learning Goals, exposing children to phonemes and national curriculum common exception words (known in our school as ‘harder to read and spell words’) from other year groups. Resources are specific to Essential Letters and Sounds, in particular friezes and sound cards. The leader of this subject has, alongside the EYFS lead, created sound mats which are particular to the programme, adapted to the needs of our children. The leader of this subject is a literacy specialist, seconded to the English Hub to support the successful implementation of phonics in schools across the country, and is kept abreast of the most up-to-date developments and opportunities. 


Clear term-by-term expectations of progress from Reception to Year 2, provide opportunities for class teachers to assess pupils’ letter-sound knowledge and word reading skills, enabling targeted intervention to take place to close gaps quickly. Children are well-versed in the use of technical vocabulary in learning using words such as phoneme, digraph, trigraph and grapheme linking directly into our focus on oracy. Phonics lessons are taught daily, with the opportunity for children to read a decodable text in every lesson, right from the very beginning of phonics teaching. 


Phonics lessons are of the highest standard. Staff training takes place regularly to ensure high quality teaching and aim to reduce the amount of extra support needed. Lessons ensure those who may be falling behind are identified immediately and receive daily targeted support from their class teacher, within the lesson as well as extra daily practice. Children read texts and books both at home and at school that closely match the letter-sound correspondence taught. Children transfer their phonics and reading skills in all areas of the curriculum. In line with National Curriculum requirements, children are encouraged to re-read texts to build fluency and practice reading books at home that they have read at school. Once pupils are able to confidently read unfamiliar words children are encouraged to read wider literature. 


Children will have a clear love of reading and confidence in reading unfamiliar words, applying these skills to all areas of the curriculum. Through carefully implemented learning activities, pupils will develop reading expertise to decode confidently and to derive meaning through written word. Through phonics, children will become life-long readers and develop a love of reading, having been exposed to a wide range of texts including instructions, non-fiction texts and stories during the reading a decodable text section of phonics lessons. 


Pupil’s reading skills and vocabulary knowledge, when assessed by the class teacher as part of an ongoing process, throughout lessons and more formally on a half-termly basis, will show that they build on their developing phonics knowledge to decode unfamiliar words. Use of Essential Letters and Sounds assessments enable the class teacher and curriculum lead to measure impact and adapt phonics intervention and support where necessary.


Long term plans, showing the progression of skills and knowledge and the content taught in Reading and Phonics can be found below: 

ELS: Phase 2 pronunciation

Essential Letters and Sounds or ELS is a synthetic phonics programme for learning to read. In this video you can hear the pronunciation of the phase 2 sounds.

ELS: Phase 3 pronunciation

Essential Letters and Sounds or ELS is a synthetic phonics programme for learning to read. In this video you can hear the pronunciation of the phase 3 sounds.

ELS: Phase 5 pronunciation

Essential Letters and Sounds or ELS is a synthetic phonics programme for learning to read. In this video you can hear the pronunciation of the phase 5 sounds.


To draw individual sounds together to pronounce a word. Blending is a skill used for reading.



To split up a word into its individual phonemes in order to spell it: for example, the word ‘cat’ has three phonemes c/a/t. Children are asked to count the individual sounds in the word to help them to spell it. Segmenting is used for writing.



The smallest single identifiable sound in a word. For example, in the word 'cat' there are three phonemes c/a/t.



The written representation of a sound. 


Grapheme-Phoneme-Correspondence (GPC): 

The relationship between sounds and the letters which represent those sounds; also known as ‘letter–sound correspondence’.



Two letters making one sound. For example, /sh/ in the word 'shop'. 



Three letters making one sound. For example, /igh/ in the word 'night'. 


Split digraph: two vowel letters split but are split by one or more consonants. For example, /a-e/ in the word 'cake'.


Decoding: Extracting meaning from symbols. In the case of reading, the symbols are letters, which are decoded into words.


Encoding: Writing involves encoding: communicating meaning by creating symbols (letters to make words) on a page. 

Harder to Read and Spell Words: Words that children will find harder to read and spell as they will not have been taught the relevant GPCs. Sometimes these are Common Exception (I, the, no, go, into).