Reading and Phonics at MDCP

developing a love of reading...

Phonics programme

ESSENTIAL LETTERS AND SOUNDS: click here for more information on the scheme and see the introduction video here...

At Market Deeping Community Primary School we follow the ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ phonic programme. In Reception, our phonic skills begin with speaking and listening. We practise listening for sounds at the beginning, in the middle, and at the ends of words. We also practise blending sounds together verbally to make words. In the Autumn term, we begin teaching children single letter sounds through and as the children become more confident, we teach them how to put these single sounds together to read and write words. Throughout the year, we constantly reinforce the importance of correct formation of these letters, practising in different ways, such as using glitter, sand and playdough. We also focus on High Frequency words, such as home, we, look, I, where the children learn these by sight.

In Key Stage 1 the children continue to follow the ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ scheme but we enhance and support this with a wide range of resources such as whiteboard writing activities, card games, flash cards, interactive on-line and published games, as well as the many interactive activities suggested in the scheme itself. We have found that following the structure and guidance of the ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ scheme ensures a full coverage of phonic sounds and skills and that the enhancement activities allow the children to apply and consolidate their knowledge in a variety of contexts. This then allows them to link phonic rules and strategies to their writing and reading tasks more effectively. You can find the progression through the Phases here

Click here to see our overview of Reading at MDCP


Essential Letters and Sounds

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).

We teach children to:

  • Decode (read) by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently
  • Encode (write) by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.

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.

Supporting Reading at Home:

  • Children will only read books that are entirely decodable, this means that they should be able to read these books as they already know the code contained within the book.
  • We only use pure sounds when decoding words (no ‘uh’ after the sound)
  • We want children to practise reading their book 4 times across the week working on these skills:

                Decode – sounding out and blending to read the word.

                Fluency – reading words with less obvious decoding.

                Expression (prosody) – 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:  

Promoting the love of reading

Download useful documents to help your child with reading as well as recommended books for each year group:

Helping your child read - questions to ask:

Read to your children before they can read, then begin reading with your children as soon as they can.

• Read aloud to your child; talk about the words and pictures and share ideas about the book.
• Read yourself. Children who see adults reading, and enjoying reading, are much more likely to want to
read themselves.
• Surround them with books. You don’t need hundreds of books at home, but make regular trips to the
library or bookshop, not just to borrow books, but to spend time together browsing and learning to make
choices. Make books part of your family life – always have books around so that you and your children are
ready to read whenever there’s a chance.
• Talk to your child. Spend time with them, doing simple activities (cooking, making something, building a
model). As you talk about what you’re doing, you are helping them to learn new words. Later, when they
see words written down, they have already heard them and know what they mean.
• Match their interests. Help them find the right book - it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction, poetry, comic books or
non-fiction. All reading is good – don’t discount non-fiction, comics, graphic novels, magazines and leaflets.
Reading is reading and it is all good.
• Get comfortable! Snuggle up somewhere warm and cosy with your child, either in bed, on a beanbag or
on the sofa. Turn off the television and concentrate on enjoying the book.
• Ask questions. To keep them interested in the story, ask your child questions as you read such as, ‘What do
you think will happen next?’ or ‘Where did we get to last night? Can you remember what had happened
• Read whenever you get the chance. Bring along a book or magazine for any time your child has to wait,
such as at a doctor’s surgery.
• Read again and again. Encourage your child to re-read favourite books and poems. Re-reading helps to
build up fluency and confidence.
• Bedtime stories. Regularly read with your child or children at bedtime. It’s a great way to end the day and
to spend valuable time with your child.
• Rhyme and repetition. Books and poems which include rhyme and repetition are great for encouraging
your child to join in and remember the words. In this way, your child starts to learn the language used in
• Bring the characters to life. Talk about the characters, the drawings and the events so that the story starts
to come alive. Remember that your face says it all – exaggerate your normal expression like a children’s TV
presenter: children will love it.
• Try audio books - this is a great way to build a child’s understanding of stories and improve their listening.


Our Reading Lincs Detectives involves our strong readers in Year 4, 5 and 6.  Our aim is to increase the number of pupils reaching Greater Depth in Reading at the end of year.

Autumn Term Books:

Year 4 - Secrets of a Sun King by Emma Carroll

Year 5: Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy

Year 6: Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

Secrets of a Sun KingImage result for brightstormImage result for sky song

Spring Term Books: 

Year 4: Beetle Boy by M G Leonard

Year 5: The Boy at the Back of the Classroom by Onjali Q. Rauf

Year 6: The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare by Zillah Bethell


Summer Term Books:

Year 4: The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle

Year 5: Wolf Wilder


We worked with Chris Whitney, a literacy consultant.  Here is her biography: 

Chris is a highly regarded independent literacy and film education consultant; providing creative approaches to whole school literacy support and delivering quality CPD. The courses she leads are inspiring and provide teachers with both practical approaches and imaginative solutions to raising standards in reading and writing.

For thirteen years she was a Literacy Consultant for CfBT Education Services, Lincolnshire where she was responsible for delivering high quality consultancy for primary schools both in and out of the county. This expertise was developed through her work with schools in the East Midlands where she delivered a wide range of school improvement programmes as well as bespoke support in phonics, speaking and listening, drama, poetry, reading, creative writing, grammar, integrated technologies and film education. She is a national KS2 Writing moderator and has experience at KS1 and 2 moderating reading, writing and mathematics. She became an accredited local consultant for school improvement in 2010.

Chris works for several TSAs delivering CPD on their SCITT and NQT programmes.

Prior to becoming a literacy consultant, she was a class teacher and then deputy head teacher in a large multi-cultural school in Slough, Berkshire where she led the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy in her own school and across schools in Slough.

She has written a suite of intervention programmes for KS2 in grammar and spelling, and has written for Harper Collins in their Treasure House series. Chris has also written articles for POV (a film education magazine) as well as a chapter about approaches to teaching with film in a resource book for teachers called Teaching Media in Primary Schools, edited by Cary Bazalgette.

In the last year Chris has travelled to Malaysia to work in a British school in Kuala Lumpur supporting the English curriculum. She will return there in 2019.

Chris has a passion for film education and became a British Film Institute (BFI) lead practitioner in 2004; delivering CPD on their behalf nationally and internationally. She led a renowned programme of film education in Lincolnshire for 7 years. This programme received national recognition for its positive impact on raising standards in reading and writing at both KS1 and KS2. She currently coordinates an international film programme for primary children on behalf of the BFI.