Essential Letters and Sounds Link


At St Peters Primary School the systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage One, with skills embedded into Key Stage Two. We value reading as a key life skill and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong, confident readers. We acknowledge that children need to be taught the key skills in segmenting and blending and decoding to be equipped with the knowledge to be able to pass the phonics check successfully in Year One. We also value and encourage the pupils to read for enjoyment and recognise that this starts with the foundations of hearing adults read, acquiring letter sounds, tuning into sounds and segmenting and blending skills.


Through the teaching of the systematic, synthetic programme Essential Letters and Sounds,  children at St Peters are taught the vital skills needed for reading. Phonics is taught daily in a discrete whole class session to all children in the Early Years and Year One. Extra support is provided to those in Year Two who have not passed phonics screening in Year One and interventions are planned for those children who are working below expected levels. This support continues through KS2; we have recently implemented a new ELS 'progress' intervention for children in KS2 who have some gaps in their phonics. We also have the ELS spelling programme established in Year 2, that follows on seemlessly from our SSP. 

In-class support and 'in the lesson intervention' is used during phonics sessions, with the teacher supporting the children who struggle to apply their new phonic knowledge. Staff systematically teach learners the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them. Mnemonics and ditties are used to remember letter formation, as part of our SSP. 

Phonics is delivered in a whole class format led by a trained teacher, with staff ensuring support is provided for children at risk of falling behind, during the lesson. Teaching assistants are deployed effectively to support children in their application of key skills.  All staff, including support staff are fully trained to deliver Essential Letters and Sounds and have had additional training to ensure phonic knowledge is strong and teaching is consistent. Children are taught in a rich literacy environment developed for early readers.

Pupils have regular reading sessions with an adult to ensure the pupils are regularly practising and applying their phonics knowledge. In the EYFS the activities in provision match the pupil’s current knowledge and understanding, clearly outlining their phonological journey and providing opportunities to embed knowledge, whilst ensuring the children are suitably challenged. 

Across the Early Years and Key Stage One, teachers regularly assess the pupil’s phonic knowledge using a phonics phoneme/grapheme assessment on Phonic Tracker and assess reading and writing termly in a summative process. These regular assessments inform planning and allow teachers to identify any gaps in learning. Interventions are tailored to meet the needs and next steps of learners and ensure children keep up, rather than need to catch up. Staff use the assessment analysis to find any grapheme gaps and re-teach them in the 'review period' of the lessons or provide interventioms to groups and individuals. 

The children have two books to take home each week. One is a library book to aid comprehension and ensure children are hearing an adult read to them, the other is a book that enables children to practise their current phonic skills, reading a fully decodable book that is matched to their phonic level and ability. When children are secure in their phase five phonic knowledge and have passed the phonics screen, they can take home more challenging books at their level. During review periods when children are consolidating their phonic knowledge, they may take home a 'richer reading book' that is 80% decodable or a book that will address any gaps from previous phases. The reading spine is clearly set out and all staff are trained to choose the correct books. 


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 One and tracked regularly using the ELS tracker. St Peters phonics results are above NA and LA, with 83% in 2022 and 97% in 2023.

At St Peters, we know that reading is the key and sometimes a barrier to learning and as a result of high-quality phonics provision, children make excellent progress from their different starting points. Children enjoy listening to adults read throughout the school and develop a love of reading, gaining satisfaction from their growing success in developing independence and fluency.


Essential Letters and Sounds Link   Phonics pure sounds


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St Peters C of E Primary School, Birley St, Newton-le-Willows, WA12 9UR