Phonics and Early Reading


At The Vale Primary Academy, we believe that all pupils, by the end of Key Stage One, should be confident in hearing environmental sounds, orally segmenting and blending words and developing confidence in their fluency.

Our aims in the teaching of phonics are:

  • To develop enthusiastic and fluent readers.
  • To ensure pupils are able to access texts linked to their current phonological awareness.
  • To provide fidelity within all aspect of phonics and early reading.
  • To foster a love of reading and inspire pupils through inspiring storytelling.

Getting all children to read well, quickly.

We ensure there is a consistent and engaging approach to our phonics, following the validated Essential Letters and Sounds SSP. We believe every child should leave The Vale Primary Academy with the skills of a confident, fluent and efficient reader and writer.

Essential Letters and Sounds – Systematic Synthetic Phonics Programme

ELS stands for “Essential Letters and Sounds”.
In distilling Letters and Sounds to it’s purest form, to ensure every phonics lesson has the highest quality teaching possible, we have created an SSP where only the essential elements are used. The name reflects the key principles of the programme, simplicity and consistency.

What is the aim of Essential Letters and Sounds?

Getting all children to read well, quickly.
In pursuit of this aim, we have ensured that there is minimal opportunity for cognitive overload and a robust structure in place for the teaching of phonics. This gives the children the opportunity to not only practice but to overlearn, ensuring that they are all accessing learning.

ELS was developed by teachers, for teachers with teaching in mind.

How should the sounds be pronounced?

Children learn to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sounds they represent. Pronounce the sounds as you would say them within a word. Make sure you don’t add ‘uh’ onto the end, so for ‘m’ say ‘mm’ not ‘muh’ and for ‘l’ say ‘ull’ not ‘luh’. The below video gives you all 44 sounds in English.

How to pronounce pure sounds

How can I help at home?

Practising the sounds

  • You can help your child practise the sounds they have been learning at school. Download the charts linked above so you can see the list of sounds in the order they’ll be taught. You can show these to your child along with the picture to help them remember.


  • After children learn to read some sounds separately, they can start blending them together to form simple words. Take a look at the video below for ideas on how you can practise word blending with your child. 

Reading decodable books

  • Your child will bring home reading books that match their current phonological awareness. You may hear these reading books called ‘decodable books’. Use the prompts inside the front and back covers to enjoy the book together and help your child practise reading.
How to blend sounds to read words