Essential Letters and Sounds
Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. The aim of ELS is ‘getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to decode.
Children begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day in Reception and Key Stage 1 during dedicated slots on the timetable. We allow up to an hour each day solely dedicated to Phonics. Throughout the day, children will use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and will have many opportunities to practise their reading.
Phonics lessons are delivered to the whole class and we follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language. As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support each child’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.
We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs ‘sh’ (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs ‘igh’ (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs ‘eigh’ (four letters spelling one sound).
We teach children to:
• Decode (read) by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently
• Encode (write) by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.
ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher and any child who is struggling with the new knowledge can be immediately targeted with appropriate support. Where further support is required, 1:1 interventions are used. These interventions are short, specific and effective. Where needed, Phonics continues into Key Stage 2.
Supporting Reading at Home:
Decode – sounding out and blending to read the word.
Fluency – reading words with less obvious decoding.
Expression – using intonation and expression to bring the text to life!
We must use pure sounds when we are pronouncing the sounds and supporting children in reading words. If we mispronounce these sounds, we will make reading harder for our children. Please watch the videos below for how to accurately pronounce these sounds.
At the beginning of each academic year, we will hold an information session for parents and carers to find out more about what we do for Phonics. Please do join us.
More support for parents and carers can be found by clicking the links below: