Our Approach to Phonics

Phonics and Early Reading Essential Letters and Sounds

We aim to develop confident, fluent and passionate readers and writers from an early stage. We use 'Essential Letters and Sounds' which is a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP). Phonics is taught daily in Reception and Year 1 and we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represents sounds and that these are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise the different graphemes that they will see when they are reading or writing.

Our phonics teaching starts in the early days in Reception and it follows a specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies. As a result, our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. 

 We also model these strategies in shared reading and writing outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum.

We have a strong focus on the development of language and language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.

How we Teach Phonics

At St Werburgh's and St Columba's we:

  • Follow Essential Letters and Sounds which has a four part lesson structure and teaching sequence (review, teach, practise, apply) which promotes independence, resilience and success in all our learners.
  • Teach children that phonics helps us to read and write.
  • Ensure that all phonics teaching is delivered with pace and passion.
  • Use 100% decodable books in phonics lessons so that children can directly apply their new knowledge and phonic skills at an appropriate level. We use a range of decodable books which have been carefully organised to match the sounds your child is learning.
  • Invite all parents to attend phonics and reading meetings to support their children with the development of their child’s phonics skills.
  • Make sure that all classrooms are well resourced with phonic working walls and resources which are readily available empowering children to independently make correct spelling choices.

Phonics and Reading Books

When the children are starting to learn the phonic code it is important that the books they read are closely matched to the letter sounds they are learning. These books should give the children confidence and help develop fluency - we want our children to feel confident and have a sense of achievement.

All children who are being taught phonics have new reading books to take home on Fridays.  As reading books are matched to the children's teaching and learning in phonics, they will not be a challenge to read. We ask that children read each sentence 3 times: First time - decoding (sounding out) and recognising tricky words. Second time - reading a little bit quicker. Third time - read it in your storytelling voice (with expression and fluency). This way of reading in the early days will enable children to read fluently as soon as possible. Research has shown that if children are relying on sounding out words for too long in their reading journey, this hinders their ability to understand what they have read, meaning they will find reading difficult and ultimately won't enjoy it.

Children also have the opportunity to choose a quality picture book from our library each week that they can share with an adult at home.

Phonics Meeting - Autumn Term 

We hold a Phonics Information Workshop for Reception Parents and carers. The aim of these sessions is to introduce Essential Letters and Sounds and provide support and guidance. 

Assessment of Phonics

We track our children throughout each Phonic Phase to monitor both achievement and progress and assess each child's achievements during week 4 of each teaching sequence. This informs phonics teachers about what support, if any, needs to be put in place - eg  some pupils may need further support through targeted interventions. If there are any sound gaps, a child's unknown sounds are sent home to ensure parents/carers are able to support their child at home with phonics progress.

Additional support for phonics is also put in place for those children in KS2 who still require support.

All children read every day during their phonics lessons, with additional paired reading sessions during the week. Children requiring reading support read with an adult in school at least once per week in addition to the taught reading sessions and classroom intervention activities. Older children who find reading more difficult are supported through the Nessy Reading and Spelling programme.

Phonics Screening Check

Year One Children participate in the Statutory Phonic Screening Check in the Summer Term.

Here to Help...

If you have any questions about phonics or reading in school, please speak to your child's teacher, or Mrs McLintock.


Useful information:

Overview of ELS Phonics with useful pronunciation videos of the sounds taught at each phase:


ELS Phonics Scheme Overview Video: https://youtu.be/7sJ8IOOMJGs

Phonics Information-for-Parents/ Carers





Pronunciation of pure sounds: https://youtu.be/UCI2mu7URBc

Contact Us

St Werburgh & St Columba Primary School

Lightfoot Street

Tel: 01244 478968

Email: admin@lovelearnlaugh.org.uk - for new enquiries

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