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Phonics at St Anthony’s

Phonics at St Anthony’s

Our Vision for Reading

Statement of Intent

At St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School we understand the power that reading can have in unlocking all areas of the curriculum and allowing pupils to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.

Our aim is to provide the children with opportunities to read carefully selected texts in a range of genres with confidence and fluency. From the earliest stage, skills in decoding are taught through engaging and creative activities and are embedded into the learning environment. Developing an understanding and use of vocabulary is built upon through reading and hearing a range of high-quality fiction and non-fiction texts. This therefore nurtures a deeper understanding and appreciation of the world around them.

We believe that by promoting a love of reading, the children will be inspired to find joy and pleasure in a range of literature that will live with them throughout their lives.

The Implementation of our Phonics Curriculum

Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to read words.

Children begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Children are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently.

Throughout the day, children will use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and will have many opportunities to practise their reading. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff, with a partner during paired reading and as a class.

Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.

We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.

Children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills they need to become fluent independent readers and writers. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support each child’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.

We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs ‘sh’ (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs ‘igh’ (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs ‘eigh’ (four letters spelling one sound).

Our Trajectory

Phase 2 (ideally taught in Reception Autumn 1) has twenty-one grapheme phoneme correspondences (GPCs) taught over a 6 week period with four sounds being taught per week, in weeks 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. This phase has a review session every Friday and a 4-day review session in week 5. Twelve harder to read and spell words (HRSW) are taught during this phase, three words per week on weeks 2, 3 and 4, one HRSW on week 5 and two HRSWs on week 6.

Phase 3 (ideally taught in Reception Autumn 2 and Spring 1) has twenty-eight GPCs taught over a 12 week period with four sounds being taught per week, in weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and 9. Other weeks (5, 6, 7, 10, 11 and 12) teaching between 1-3 sounds whilst reviewing and consolidating taught GPCs. Over this 12 week period eighteen HRSW are taught, read and wrote.

Phase 3 continues into the Reception Spring 2 term (ideally) where the children will spend 6 weeks reviewing, consolidating and becoming confident using the GPCs taught previously. The children will continue to learn fourteen HRSW over this consolidation period.

Phase 4 (ideally taught in Reception Summer 1) has a suffix focus of –ed /ed/, –ed /t/, –ed /d/ and –er/ –est whilst teaching of new word structure to include CVCC, CCVC, CCVCC, CCCVC and CCCVCC over a 6 week period. The children will review every Friday and no new HRSW will be taught during this time.

Phase 5 (ideally taught in Reception Summer 2 and Year 1 Autumn 1) teaches twenty GPCs over a 6 week period before revisiting 12 of those earlier GPCs during Year 1 Autumn 1 (6 weeks). During this 12 week period this children will review on their 5th day, as well as on week 5 and in Autumn 1 week 1, 2 and 5. The children will learn sixteen HRSW during this phase. Phase 5 continues for 6 weeks after this period of time (Year 1 Autumn 2) where the children can consolidate Phase 5 GPCs further and support is given if/when needed, during this time nine HRSW are taught.

Phase 5 continues teaching the children new alternative GPCs (ideally taught in Year 1 Spring 1 and 2). This is a 12 week teaching phase where the children will learn thirty-three GPCs and four HRSW. The children will also look at the suffixes –ous, –ion and –ian in decodable words. Typically the children will be taught 4 new GPCs a week, with review days on their 5th learning day and review weeks on weeks 1 and 5, of both terms.

Trajectory based on expected age related progress from Reception (approx. week 3).

We teach children to:

The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for children to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.

ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Since interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher, any child who is struggling with the new knowledge can be immediately targeted with appropriate support. Where further support is required, 1:1 interventions are used where needed. These interventions are short, specific and effective.

The Impact of our Phonics Curriculum

Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their comprehension as they move through the school.

Assessment takes place at 3 main check-points over the year however children are continuously assessed in accordance to our ELS trajectory and children are tracked through the ELS Phonics Tracker assessments from EYFS to Year 2. This allows intervention to be implemented timely and swiftly to give the children the best possible start to their reading journey. Assessments are an additional tool to ongoing formative assessment that continually allows for the class teacher to plan and target next steps for groups and individuals. Tracking data is reviewed by the English and Phonics Leader and Senior Leadership team.

Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1.

However, at St. Anthony’s we aim for Reading to be at the heart of our curriculum and is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. We aim to instil a lifelong love of reading within all of our children.

Supporting Reading at Home:

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:


Interventions are organised to help support children in becoming secure within a phase if required. These take place during phonics lessons and throughout the school day. Children are given daily opportunities to use and apply their phonic knowledge through a range of independent and adult-led tasks across the curriculum.

At Key Stage Two, phonic interventions are carefully and precisely planned to support children who do not have secure knowledge and understanding of phonics in order to read.

All key stages promote the use of phonics in order to support the children in decoding letters and sounds independently in order for them to become competent and confident literate readers.

Early Reading

Here are a couple of videos from Oxford Owl that give you advice on how to support your child at home with phonics and reading.

How to say the phonics sounds:


Phase 2 Pronunciation video

Phase 3 Pronunciation video

Phase 5 Pronunciation video

How to blend sounds to read words:


Useful Websites

Reading and Phonics

Teach your monster to read



Oxford Owl E-Library

Oxford Reading Buddy logo

Oxford Reading Buddy