Woodmanstern Primary

Parent Pay Term Dates

Phonics and reading 

 Early Reading and Phonics & 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 read words.


Children begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Children are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently.

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. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff and as a class.

Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers. 

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 GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.

Children 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 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).

Essential Letters and Sounds programme overview (youtube.com) 


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.

The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for children to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.

ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Since interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher, 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 where needed.

ELS is delivered using a whole-class approach. This ensures that all children benefit from the full curriculum. Reception and Year 1 have daily phonics lesson where children are taught a new sound, or where they review sounds learned earlier in the week.

In Reception, children start with Phase 2 sounds, sounding out and orally blending new grapheme-phoneme correspondences. They then learn Phase 3  while revising previous sounds. They also learn harder to read and spell (HRS) words. By Summer, children are introduced to Phase 5 for reading. Each phonics lesson is supported using a whiteboard presentation and a work booklet for the children to apply their learning. Fun and engaging activities are available during continuous provision for the children to access every day.


Year 1 review all phase 5 sounds and then alternative sounds and new harder to read and spell (HRS) words. The children also have a work booklet to apply their learning. Engaging and challenging activities are available in continuous provision for children to practise their sounds and challenge themselves.


Year 2 use the ELS Essential Spelling programme which gives all children the knowledge to spell confidently. ELS uses code knowledge as its approach to spelling, and is a programme designed to teach rather than test. The three lessons each week allow children to build upon their understanding of the sounds they have previously been taught as part of their phonics programme and gives them the confidence to use this code to support spelling. The children also have a work booklet to apply their learning.



Home reading

All pupils regularly take home high-quality home readers to share with their families. Pupils up to year 3 are provided with a book which is matched to their reading level. Pupils also visit the school library regularly to select a book of their choice. The purpose of this is to develop a love of reading for pleasure. We advise parents to read at least three times a week and make reading a treat and something exciting rather than a chore that has to be completed.

Reading records are used from Reception to Six and should be returned to school every day. We prioritise looking at reading records to ensure our pupils are reading regularly. It is an expectation that any adult who comes into school can speak to pupils and ask to see their reading records and discuss what they are reading.

Years 1-3

Parents and staff are expected to write a comment in the child’s reading record regularly, at least once a week. Parents are expected to record they have read with their child three times a week by initialing and ticking their reading record on the relevant days.

Years 4-6

Pupils are expected to comment at least twice a week and school staff once a week, building up a dialogue to develop reading skills and enthusiasm.

We look welcoming authors to our school. They share their journey as an author and give us their 'Top Tips' for writing. These moments are special and help to develop a life long passion for reading in all of our children. 

As part of our commitment to reading for pleasure, we are delighted to provide a Reading Shed for parents! Our parents and wider community can donate, take and share books suitable for adults. 

As part of our Reading Pledge, we promise that all of our children will own their own books. We gift every Reception child a collection of books to take hope and treasure. Our PTFA  provide Woody book bags to make it extra special!  Our parents and staff also regularly donate high-quality books that every child is able to take home and keep. 

Parent Links

Tips for reading at home
Phonics workshop Nursery
Reception Parent meeting
Year 1 Parents meeting
Pronunciation Phase 2
Pronunciation Phase 3
Pronunciation Phase 5
Essential Letters and Sounds


At Woodmansterne, we strive to ensure that all children will be fluent readers for their level. Our Phonics and Early Reading levels are consistently above average due to our commitment to reading.  We monitor progress to identify any child needing additional support and provide it as soon as possible.


Assessment is regular and manageable to ensure that all children ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. All children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child that does not pass will receive additional interventions and re-sit in Year 2.