• Phonics & Early Reading

Phonics & Early Reading

What we believe:

At Hayton C of E Primary we use 'ESSENTIAL LETTER AND SOUNDS' (ELS) which is a structured phonics programme designed to help all children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. The programme is designed for Reception to Year 2 children and is used, where necessary, as an intervention programme for children in Years 3 and 4. Children learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and how to blend them to read and spell.

At Hayton C of E Primary School, we firmly believe that reading is the key that unlocks the whole curriculum so the ability to efficiently decode is essential. Phonics sessions occur each day in Reception and KS1, as the continuity and pace of the programme is key to accelerating the progress of children’s reading development. In KS2, those children who are still accessing phonics will receive daily phonics lessons each week in small groups.

Through Phonics teaching, we aim to teach all children to:

  • apply the skill of blending phonemes in order to read words.
  • segment words into their constituent phonemes in order to spell words.
  • learn that blending and segmenting words are reversible processes.
  • read high frequency words that do not conform to regular phonic patterns.
  • read texts and words that are within their phonic capabilities as early as possible.
  • decode texts effortlessly so all their resources can be used to comprehend what they read.


We have access to a fantastic online reading programme linked to our 'ELS' Phonics that we’d like to share with you. It  is an online reading library which ensures that all children can find books at exactly the right level for them.

Using the online reading world:

ELS Information For Parents

ELS Further Information For Parents

ELS Sound Mats

Getting involved:

Until they are fluent readers, children will benefit from reading aloud to you as often as possible. They need to read and re-read their 'phonetically decodable' reading books to become automatic in their reading, in recognising immediately both the phonic codes they have learned and practiced at school and also those 'tricky words' that do not follow a phonetic pattern - we just need to know them! We appreciate your child may get 'bored' with rereading their reading book so intersperse this with you reading their favourite stories to them as well as introducing them to new books. As your child's reading journey progresses, they will bring home more than their phonetically decodable book - they will also bring home a 'library book' - a book of their choice that they will want to share with you.

Sharing reading: when sharing a book with your child, try to take opportunities to talk about the book - before, during and after reading.

Before reading: look at the book cover and talk about your child’s expectations. Is the book likely to be fiction or non-fiction? Have you read other books together about these characters or by this author? What does your child think the book is going to be about?

While reading: support your child when unknown words need tackling: you can sound them out, split them into syllables, or identify suffixes and prefixes. Remind your child to listen to the words while reading them, to make sure that they make sense. Have a ‘meaning check’ every now and again to ensure that your child understands the text.

After reading: ask your child simple questions to see if they can remember and recall key events / elements within the book. You could draw a story-map and retell the story together. You could draw a key character from the story and write down words that describe the character around the drawing.

Ideas for questions you can ask your child:

Top Trumps Cards

Independent Reading

At Hayton C of E Primary School, we promote a love of books from children's first day with us in Nursery. We firmly believe that sharing high quality picture books both at home and at school engages children with the majesty of storytelling and supports children as they develop their understanding of the world and broaden their vocabulary. For this reason, children who access our 'Bug Club' phonics programme regularly take home a picture book each week, which we encourage parents and carers to read to their child as often as possible.

It is essential that, as children learn to read independently, they access phonetically decodable books which are matched to their phonics knowledge. Reading scheme books which are very closely matched to their learning ensure that children are engaging decodable texts during the early stages of reading. Strategic half termly assessments ensure that these books are matched appropriately to each child. 

Once children are able to read fluently and at speed, and no longer access the phonics programme, they then take home banded texts which are aligned to the National Curriculum. They are engaging, accessible and appropriate to children's stage of development.  Each colour in the book band includes  a range of fiction and non-fiction books which children are keen to pick up and enjoy. As well as this, children also access the 'Accelerated Reader' programme, which assesses and assigns a 'reading level' within which children can read. When finished reading a book, each child takes a 'low stakes' online quiz and the results are recorded and analysed for teacher information. 

Phonics Help Guide

Early Reading Self-Evaluation

Phonics PowerPoint For Parents