Essential Letters and Sounds

Essential Letters and Sounds


Chesterton Primary School uses a systematic synthetic approach to phonics and follows the Essential Letters & Sounds scheme.

Children move through six phases as they progress from Foundation to Year 2 and develop the skills in order to be able to read and spell. The scheme uses a ‘review, teach, practise, and apply’ model and this is consistent across the school. Children have access to decodable reading books that match what they are being taught in phonics lessons and are read with regularly at school, and are encouraged to read regularly at home. Our aim is that all children are fluent readers by the time they move into Key Stage 2. When children are noticed to have barriers to learning or gaps in their phonic knowledge they receive immediate individualised interventions as to close these gaps.

“We are confident that children will leave Foundation with a love of reading”

In Foundation, children will start Phase 1 straight away where they will focus solely on listening. They will take part in activities that develop this skill such as listening walks, playing musical instruments, singing songs and rhymes, and finally moving onto oral blending and segmenting; these are the stepping stones to early reading. Moving on, children will move through Phases 2-4 whilst they are in their initial year of school. They will be taught phoneme – grapheme correspondences and be given the skills to blend and segment during discrete phonics lessons. The Foundation learning environment is set up in order to encourage children to be independent and follow their own learning journey, they are immersed in sounds and are supported in accessing a variety of reading and writing activities that will also promote their phonic knowledge. We are confident that children will leave Foundation with a love of reading!

In Year 1, children will continue to build upon the skills they have gained in Foundation and will learn more phoneme – grapheme correspondences as they progress through Phase 5 and will in turn become increasingly fluent readers.  Towards the end of Year 1, children will undergo the Phonics Screening Check, in which they are required to read a series of real and nonsense words in order to check their phonic knowledge. This gives children the opportunity to apply the skills they have been taught throughout their school journey and allows teachers to identify early on what support children may need.  In Year 2, children move into the final Phase of Letters & Sounds. During Phase 6, they will consolidate all previous learning as well as being taught additional skills in order to master reading. Children will learn about prefixes, suffixes and a variety of spelling patterns and are expected to apply these skills across the curriculum.

As children progress into Key Stage 2, we would expect them to be fluently reading and applying their phonic knowledge independently across the curriculum.


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)
  • We want children to practise reading their book 4 times across the week working on these skills:

            Decode – sounding out and blending to read the word.

            Fluency – reading words with less obvious decoding.

            Expression – using intonation and expression to bring the text to life!

We must use pure sounds when we are pronouncing the sounds and supporting children in reading words. If we mispronounce these sounds, we will make reading harder for our children. Please watch the videos below for how to accurately pronounce these sounds.

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: 


Support your child learning phonics by watching these pronunciation videos:

Phase 2 Pronunciation

Phase 3 Pronunciation

Phase 5 Pronunciation