St Philips Avenue, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS10 3SL

0113 2716763

St Philip's Catholic Primary and Nursery School

"In the light of Christ, where everyone is valued and learning is celebrated"

Reading and Phonics at St. Philip's 


At St. Philip's, we are passionate about teaching phonics, it is at the heart of everything that we do! The pronunciation of the pure sounds is vital so that your child is hearing the right information. To find out more about what the pure sounds are, follow this link to watch a short video: Phonics: How to pronounce pure sounds | Oxford Owl - YouTube.

This year we are introducing Essential Letters and Sounds as our phonics programme so that all our children read well, quickly. Essential Letters and Sounds 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, 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. 

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).

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. These interventions are short, specific and effective.

Supporting Reading at Home:

  • Children will only read books that are entirely decodable, this means that they should be able to read these books as they already know the code contained within the book.
  • We only use pure sounds when decoding words (no ‘uh’ after the sound)
  • The children will read their book four times across the week working on their decoding, fluency and expression skills.

At the beginning of each academic year, we will hold an information session for parents and carers to find out more about what we do for Phonics, Reading and English at our schools. Please do join us.

More support for parents and carers can be found here:


At St. Philip's, our children read at home for 15 minutes every day. In Foundation Stage and Key Stage One, you comment on your child's reading in their reading journal after you have listened to them read. You might describe what you have talked about, a particular phoneme you focused on or something that they are finding difficult. In the back of your child's reading journal, you will find examples of questions you can ask your child about their book. In Key Stage Two, our children write their own comments in their reading journals where they might explain something that they have learnt, list new vocabulary they have found or ask questions to further develop their understanding. 
The book that your child brings home are part of the Oxford Reading Tree scheme. The colour band that your child is reading at is continually assessed to ensure that they are reading a book with the appropraite level of challenge.

At St. Philip's,  we promote a love of reading and one of the ways we do this is through our school library. Each class visits the library every week where they borrow a book to take home. Here the children have the opportunity to follow their particular interests as they might choose a book by their favourite author or around a subject that they are learning about in class. Our wonderful school librarians, not only help keep our library organised, but they will also help you find a new genre of book or author that you might not have considered before. 

The adults in your child's class will listen to them read frequently. In Reception and Year One this is on a one to one basis and as part of a group. From Year Two to Year Six, all the children read the same text in Guided Reading and there is more focus on developing comprehension.
Reception and Year Six children also buddy up to read together. Not only does this develop our youngest children's reading skills but oldest children develop their questioning skills as well as setting an excellent example of reading. 

At the end of every day everything stops for story time where the whole class gathers together to share another high quality text. This maybe a book that the teacher or a child has chosen, a book from the class book area where the children can return to it later or a class novel. 

We are very lucky here at St. Philip's to have some of our parents who volunteer to listen to our children read. These volunteers work in different classes across the school and support the children in many ways. If you are interested in becoming a reading volunteer at our school, Mrs Morland our reading lead, would love to hear from you.