St Andrew's C of E Primary School

Early Reading


At St. Andrew's School, we value reading as a key life skill and are dedicated to enabling our children to become lifelong readers and have a love of literature.

We recognise that mastery in phonics is fundamental to children being able to access a broad range of fiction and non-fiction texts, across the curriculum. We aim to develop knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live; to establish an appreciation and love of reading; to gain knowledge across the curriculum and develop their comprehension skills. We are committed to providing an environment which is rich in vocabulary.


Our children begin their journey through daily phonic teaching using the DFE-validated scheme Essential Letters and Sounds. EYFS and KS1 children are immersed in a language-rich environment and read as frequently as possible with an adult. Reading books are matched to the phonic sounds that have been learned by the child and they are encouraged to read at home regularly (at least four times per week.) This is recorded in reading diaries that parents sign. Children can also take a book home alongside the decodable readers, which can be shared and enjoyed with grown-ups.

As part of this, children have a daily phonics session which is based upon:

  • the delivery of whole-class, high-quality first teaching with well-structured daily lesson plans
  • the use of consistent terminology by teachers, children and parents
  • the use of consistent resources that support effective teaching
  • repetition and reinforcement of learning
  • regular and manageable assessment to ensure that all children ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’

ELS whole-class, daily phonics teaching begins from the first days of Reception. Through the rigorous ELS teaching programme, children will build an immediate understanding of the relationship between the sounds they can hear and say (phonemes) and the written sounds (graphemes). Every ELS lesson has been designed to ensure that the minimum cognitive load is placed on the learner. The structure of the lessons allows children to predict what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success.

ELS is based on simplicity and consistency, and the programme is delivered through whole-class lessons. Throughout ELS, we will use the same teaching sequence – Show, copy, repeat – until each child is independent. The teaching sequence is the same in all stages of the lesson, from whole class teaching to one-to-one intervention. Children are given the opportunity to hear and say each sound, first in isolation, and then within words and sentences. When introducing a new grapheme– phoneme correspondence (GPC), we use a mnemonic or rhyme with an accompanying picture to ensure that children understand. Children then hear this sound in the context of a word, and a picture and/or definition is given to support their understanding. Practice and repetition are key.


All teachers have had phonics training or refresher information and support staff have had phonics training and training on how to read with individual children.

It is expected that children entering year 2 will recap Phase 5 and begin Phase 6, which develops a variety of spelling strategies including homophones (word specific spellings) e.g. see/sea, spelling of words with prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters where necessary. Also the accurate spelling of words containing unusual grapheme-phoneme correspondence e.g. laughs, two. This is taught through Spelling Shed and is enhanced by Essential Letters and Sounds.


Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally.

Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments.

els parent presentation.pdf

 Essential letters and Sounds: Phase 2 Pronunciation

Essential Letters and Sounds: Phase 3 Pronunciation

Essential Letters and Sounds: Phase 5 Pronunciation