Phonics & Reading


ELS Progression

ELS aims to get children to read well – quickly. There is a clear and quick progression from pre-school to end of KS1.

It follows the phases 2, 3 and 5 introduced by Letters and Sounds in 2007.

  • Phase 1 – the critical pre-school years. This phase includes building knowledge of voice sounds, alliteration, rhyme and oral blending. The ability to recognise and use language in these ways is vital to reading success. These skills are strengthened by regular reading to your child at home, songs, nursery rhymes and all verbal interactions.

  • Acorns Class- Phase 2 is started in the first weeks of school. By Christmas the Acorns will have been taught all phase 2 and phase 3 graphemes. In the spring terms Acorns will be reviewing phase 3 before learning longer CCVC and CVCC words. By the final term,  Acorns will take a first look at the phase 5 graphemes. These will be reviewed in more depth in Oaks.

  • Oaks children will begin the year by reviewing the previous phases before relearning phase 5 and going on to learn the many alternative spellings and pronunciations. Children will be prepared for the Phonics Screening Check in June.


To read fluently we need children to have a strong orthographic map. This means that they learn sounds represented by letters or groups of letters in each word and can recognise them immediately. This is fluency. Without it there is no understanding or comprehension. For example, to consistently recognise that ea in bread spells e we need to read it at least four times for it to go into our long term memory.

Supporting writing

  • We use the ELS spelling sequence to support writing.
  • ELS introduces children to writing the letters and graphemes immediately.
  • Correct pencil grip is taught and correct formation of the letters modelled using the mnemonics for each grapheme.
  • In Acorns the children will print. If your children are writing at home please try to correct any pencil grip bad habits as this is nearly impossible to change even by Year 2.
  • We will spend a large amount of time making sure children do this correctly as well as building muscle strength, fine motor skills and good posture habits through activities that may not involve a pencil at all!
  • It is important that children read text using fonts they recognise. The Oxford books use a range of fonts which differ very slightly. Ones to watch are K and Q sometimes the font differs slightly.
  • In Year 1 we introduce cursive script so children are ready to join or even joining by the end of Year 2 and into KS2. With a cursive script all letters start on the line with a lead in. We have found this helps the children know where to start with tall or short letters. They also produce the lead out – which leads naturally to fully cursive style.
Ogbourne CofE Primary School, part of the Excalibur Academies Trust. 
Photograph ©2023 Sam Frost…