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Four Marks CE Primary School

Love. Integrity. Forgiveness. Equality.

Phonics and Early Reading


We teach phonics through the ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ programme. Designed by one of the Department for Education’s English Hubs, the knowledge Schools Trust, it aims for all children learn to read well and make speedy progress.  Essential Letters and Sounds provides a simple consistent approach to phonics.  We use a range of resources to support our teaching, making it as interactive and fun as possible. 



Essential Letters and Sounds follows the original Letters and Sounds teaching order.  The programme includes “tricky words” from the original Letters and Sounds document with some additional words from the National Curriculum. The teaching is fully aligned with matched decodable books, meaning we can closely match children’s phonics practice to their secure phonics knowledge.


Decodable Books for Home

At home, children have the opportunity to read online decodable books, which are closely matched to their phonics practice within school. In addition, the children's reading books are closely matched to the 'Phase' of phonics that they are learning in class. 

We use a variety of Reading Scheme books that have been carefully matched to our Phonics teaching. The core reading scheme books that we use are: 

Essential Letters and Sounds (and books approved by ELS).

Monster Phonics

My Letters and Sounds


As a school, we are looking to develop not only children’s decoding (sounding out) skills, but also their reading fluency. Reading fluency can be defined as ''reading with accuracy, automaticity and prosody." This means recognising words by sight, without the need to sound out, and using appropriate stress, intonation and expression to show the meaning of the text. 

How to access Essential Letters and Sounds e-book library at home:

Reading is a skill made up of many different components which children 'weave together' as they learn to read through repetition and practice. All of these little strands of the rope (phonological awareness, decoding, sight recognition) are the skills that must come tightly together for accurate, fluent and increasingly automatic reading to occur. This is explained in our 'Reading Rope' display pictured below: 

Our Reading Rope (Reference: Scarborough Reading Rope)

Children in Reception and Year 1, and some children in Year 2 will have two reading books; a 'Phonics practice book', and a 'Fluency practice book'. 


The  Phonics Practice book is closely matched to the 'Phase' of phonics that children are working on in school, and should present them with a good level of challenge and the need to sound out words using their phonics skills. When reading this book with your child, you can expect them to need more support to sound out words and identify letter sounds.


The Fluency Practice book will be from an earlier 'phase' of phonics and will be slightly easier for the child to read. It will still be decodable, but they should be able to read this book without the need to sound out excessively. When listening to your child read this book, the focus is to encourage them to develop their expression, automatic word recognition (reading without sounding out), rhythm and smoothness.


Both should be practised alongside each other to enable children to develop their confidence with reading. 


How to read with your child

Fluency 'EARS':

Reading Records 

Our reading records are also progressive in Year R and Key Stage 1, matching the phonics phases that the children are learning. They contain helpful charts of the Phase Sounds for the children, and to help parent's support their children's reading. They include simple ongoing assessments/ quizzes of which phase sounds the children can recognise (in isolation and in whole decodable words), and a space to record where children have spotted different sounds in other words. 



Assessment of the children’s sound, grapheme knowledge and word reading is key to ensuring that all children make rapid progress though the programme and that children keep up rather than ‘catch up’. Using the assessment cycle alongside daily in-class assessments will ensure that we know where every child is within their early reading journey.

The key assessment points within ELS are as follows:

  • Reception baseline assessment
  • Half-termly assessments (in week five of each half term)
  • Diagnostic assessment
  • Year 1 Phonics Screening Check practice (half-termly from Year 1 Autumn 1) 

Supporting children with specific learning needs in Reading:

We also use a range of Dyslexia Friendly books for older children who may need a little more support. These books are specially selected to offer high levels of interest alongside accessible text across a range of genres. The core reading resources for this aspect of our provision are Project X and Barrington Stoke.