Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics program. The aim of ELS is to ‘Get all children to read well, quickly’. All staff at Wixams Tree Primary have been expertly trained to ensure we meet this aim and continuous training is provided to staff who teach Phonics regularly.
ELS 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. ELS is a whole class teaching model. This means that every single pupil has the same opportunities when learning to read. Learning to read well, early, is a priority for every child. Children who may find it harder to learn how to read are given extra support from their teacher every day. We ensure that all children to learn to read well and keep up rather than have to catch-up.
Children being learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception, and it is explicitly taught every day. 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, with a partner during paired reading 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.
We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs (four letters spelling one sound).
We teach 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.
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. These interventions are short, specific and effective.
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 children’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.
ELS is supported by a wide range of completely decodable texts. These cover both fiction and non-fiction and are exciting and engaging for all our pupils. We match the home reading texts to each child’s current phonic knowledge to ensure that they consolidate their most recent teaching and learning at home.
‘To encounter characters and worlds that resemble your own can allow for powerful connections to be forged between the reader and the world of the book.’
CLPE: Reflecting Realities 2022 report
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. It is a central part of every pupil’s life at our school. We want to instil a love of reading for our children from the very beginning of school life and we do this by ensuring that we deliver a high-quality Reading curriculum through a wealth of literature. Children build the knowledge and skills to become confident readers throughout their time with us and this is evident by their continuous engagement, desire to read for pleasure and their understanding of a range of texts, authors, and illustrators.
For our children, learning to read and becoming a reader is a priority for us. We have developed our Reading curriculum to ensure all children have opportunities to and develop understanding in:
- Using their Phonics to lift the words off the page
- Developing communication and language skills particularly by learning new vocabulary and key/familiar phrases
- Applying their Phonics to read words, captions, phrases, sentences and longer texts
- Daily Phonics, Reading and English lessons in EYFS and KS1
- Daily Reading and English lessons in KS2
- Reading as part of the wider curriculum
- Sharing books, authors and illustrators during daily read aloud sessions
- Opportunities to independently read and be immersed in a book
- Engaging in book talk: likes, dislikes, puzzles and connections
Our writing curriculum has been developed to inspire children to want to write for a range of purposes. We teach the children specific skills to be able to effectively express their ideas and thoughts when writing for a wide selection of outcomes. Our English writing units vary in stimuli and where possible we make links with our history, geography and science units. Our units are based around: picture books, chapter books, visual literacy (animations), folk tales, traditional tales, poetry and real-life events. We encourage the children to focus on each writing outcome’s purpose, audience, language and layout and to think like a reader when writing. The children have time to self-edit their own work, but also time to work with their partner to peer-edit their work.
In EYFS, nursery rhymes, songs and rhyme are a focus, but they also have the opportunity to hear a range of poems being read aloud.
Children in Year 1 to Year 6 will explore different forms of poetry, structure of different poems and explore key poems around different themes. The sessions encompass an understanding of context of certain poems, exploring the type of poems they will study including a poet study, an exploration of language, poetry performance skills and a range of poems to develop thinking and enjoyment. We encourage the children to learn these poems off by heart, so to be performed. There is also opportunities for the children to write their own poetry based on each unit