Phonics and Early Reading

At St Stephen's, we aim to develop confident, fluent and passionate readers and writers from an early stage. we want all children to read well, quickly. We use 'Essential Letters and Sounds' which is a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP). Phonics is taught daily and we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represents sounds and that these are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise the different graphemes that they will see when they are reading or writing.

Our phonics teaching starts as soon as the children start in Reception and it follows a specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies. As a result, our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. 

At St Stephen's we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum.

Phonics Policy

Updated: 14/02/2023 67 KB

Phonics Overview

Updated: 26/10/2023 596 KB

Phonics Progression

Updated: 26/10/2023 631 KB
Updated: 26/10/2023 572 KB

Phonics Letter

Updated: 13/02/2023 89 KB

Support for Parents

Please take a look on our chosen phonics scheme ELS support pages

Essential Letters and Sounds - Oxford Owl

Phase 2 Parent Support Handout 

Phase 3 Parent Support Handout 

Phase 5 Parent Support Handout 

Pure sounds pronunciation of phonic codes

Phase 2 -

Phase 3 -

Phase 5 - Phase 5 Pronunciation (

Decodable Books

It is vital that whilst children are learning to read, they read books that match their phonic knowledge. The Oxford University Press decodable readers support Essential Letters and Sounds. These books have been carefully matched to every aspect of the ELS programme and to the sounds that your child is learning in school.

These books are intended to be used during the Review lesson on Day 5 of each week and as home readers. They are also recommended for use in other reading sessions to give children plenty of opportunities to develop their phonic knowledge and reading fluency. Children keep the books for one week and need to aim to re-read them at least four times in this period. Re-reading ensures that children develop their reading skills and fluency. This, in turn, supports their learning in school; as children become more fluent at reading, they are able to focus on their new learning.

The children's reading book will be matched to the phase of phonics that they are currently learning. Some children may also take home a "share book" which is intended to be shared with an adult as it may contain words that are not yet decodable.

Phonics Screening Check

The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps your school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress.

The children in Year 1 will take their test in the Summer term and any children in Year 2 who did not pass theirs in Year 1, will take theirs again om Year 2.

How does the check work?
• Your child will sit with a teacher he or she knows and be asked to read 40 words aloud. (20 real words and 20 pseudo or alien words)
• Your child may have read some of the words before, while others will be completely new.
• The check normally takes just a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. If your child is struggling, the teacher will stop the check. The check is carefully designed not to be stressful for your child.

After the check
The school will tell you about your child’s progress in phonics and how he or she has done in the screening check in the last half-term of Year 1 within the end of year school report. If your child has found the check difficult, your child will have support put in place to help him or her improve further. You might like to ask how you can support your child to take the next step in reading. All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.