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Essential Letters and Sounds

Ways to help at home: 

Phase 2 pronunciation video link:

Phase 3 pronunciation video link: 

As a school we know the importance of getting all of our children to read well as quickly as possible; giving them the confidence to become independent readers and engaged learners. With this in mind we have chosen the DfE validated scheme 'Essential Letters and Sounds' as our phonics scheme. 

The principles of ELS are 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’

Children are taught phonics lessons daily from their third week in our Reception class (once our Reception baseline assessment has been completed). From then on, they work through the different phases as outlined in the progression documents attached to this page. 

Our belief is that all children can succeed within our phonics sessions. We assess and monitor children throughout lessons and provide in lesson support to ensure no children fall behind. Regular, half - termly assessments provide us with further knowledge of the children's understanding and ensure that should any children fall behind, we can provide timely interventions to catch them back up as quickly as possible. 

Embed – The Theory and Pedagogy behind ELS

ELS teaches children to read using a systematic synthetic phonics approach. It is designed to be used as part of an early learning environment that is rich in talk and story, where children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills to become fluent independent readers and writers.

ELS teaches children to:
• decode by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together
to read fluently

• encode by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.

We know that for children at the end of Key Stage 1 to achieve the age-related expectations, they need to read fluently at 90 words per minute. As children move into Key Stage 2, it is vitally important that even those who have made the slowest progress are able to read age-appropriate texts independently and with fluency. For children to engage with the wider curriculum, they need to be able to read well, making inferences and drawing on background knowledge to support their
developing understanding of a text when they read. To do this, they need to be able to draw not only on their phonic knowledge but also on their wider reading and comprehension skills, each of which must be taught. The first step in this complex process is the link between spoken and written sounds.

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