Essential Letters and Sounds
Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all students to read well, quickly’. It teaches students 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 read words.
Students begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Students are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently.
Throughout the day, students will use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and will have many opportunities to practise their reading. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff, with a partner during paired reading and as a class.
Students continue daily Phonics lessons to ensure they all become confident, fluent readers.
We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our students to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our students can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.
Students experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills they need to become fluent independent readers and writers. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support each student’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 students 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.
The structure of ELS lessons allows students to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for students to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.
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 students in reading words. If we mispronounce these sounds, we will make reading harder for our students. Please watch the videos below for how to accurately pronounce these sounds.
More support for parents and carers can be found here:
See the video below to see how to pronounce pure sounds:
If you were unable to attend our parent/carer phonics information sessions, please see the presentation below: