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Portland Road, Halifax HX3 6LA West Yorkshire

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St Joseph's Catholic Primary Academy

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We are proud to work with all the Catholic schools across our two local authority areas, particularly as the Trust grows and benefits from the expertise and knowledge that other schools joining in the future will bring.

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English- Phonics

Teaching: At St. Joseph's we use 'Essential Letters and Sounds' as our Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme. This programme is followed with rigor and fidelity by all teachers and teaching assistants. Phonics lessons are taught to all children, daily in Year’s 1, 2 and Reception. To ensure that learning is embedded, flashcards and reading opportunities continue throughout the day and additional phonics teaching is given to identified children. Phonics remains the main strategy that we use to approach/decode unfamiliar words and spelling across the school.

Phonics at St. Joseph's Catholic Primary Academy.


As a school, we use Essential Letters and Sounds to teach children phonics and help children learn to read in Reception and Key Stage 1 (Primary 1 to 3). ELS is a systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme, validated by the Department for Education. 

By distilling Letters and Sounds to their purest form - their essence - we ensure every phonics lesson is taught to the highest standard. The programme was developed for teachers by teachers from Knowledge Schools Trust and is designed to ensure that all children learn to read well and make speedy progress.


What is Synthetic Phonics?

Synthetic phonics is a way of teaching children to read. It teaches children how sounds are represented by written letters. Children are taught to read words by blending these sounds together to make words.

For example, they will be taught that the letters ‘m-a-t’ blend together to make ‘mat’. A synthetic phonics programme, such as ELS, is a structure for teaching these sounds in a certain order to build up children’s learning gradually. It is used daily during Reception and Year 1 to teach all the sounds in the English language.


How is ELS taught in schools?

With ELS, there is a daily phonics lesson where the teacher teaches a new sound, or reviews sounds learned earlier in the week. This is shown to the class on the whiteboard.

Children learn the letters that represent the sounds. They are then asked to read words and sentences with the new sounds in. Children will also practice writing the letters than represent the sounds.


What order are the sounds taught in?

New sounds are taught each day, with some review days ad weeks to help children practice what they’ve learned. See below, the order of words and some grapheme support to help you.

grapheme sheet phase 2.pdf


grapheme sheet phase 3.pdf


grapheme sheet phase 5.pdf



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. For example, ‘m’ would be pronounced as ‘mm’ rather than ‘muh’ and for ‘l’ say ‘ull’ not ‘luh’. The below video gives you all 44 sounds in English.


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 above grapheme support mats so that 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 with words that use the sounds they have been learning that week. You may hear these reading books called ‘decodable books’. Use the prompts inside the front and back covers to enjoy the books together and help your child practise reading.


Below are some useful documents, which may further enable you to support your child.

Phonics Workshop for Parents/Carers

Glossary of Terms