The subject of English includes Reading and Writing.


Our Intent

At Combe CE Primary School, we want all pupils to be readers who have:

  • Excellent phonic knowledge and skills.
  • Fluency and accuracy in reading across a wide range of contexts throughout the curriculum.
  • Knowledge of an extensive and rich vocabulary.
  • An excellent comprehension of texts.
  • The motivation to read for both study and for pleasure.
  • Extensive knowledge through having read a rich and varied range of texts.


We use ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ as our systematic synthetic approach to teaching phonics.

Essential Letters and Sounds was created to ensure every child can read well, quickly.

What Are Phonics Phases?

Phases are the way the Essential Letters and Sounds Programme is broken down to teach sounds in a certain order. At the same time some whole words that cannot be broken down easily, (we call these “Harder to Read and Spell Words”) are taught to the children.

Phase One (Nursery)
Seven aspects:

  • environmental sounds
  • instrumental sounds
  • body sounds
  • rhythm and rhyme
  • alliteration
  • voice sounds
  • oral blending and segmenting

Phase Two (Reception, Autumn 1)

  • Oral blending
  • Sounding out and blending with 23 new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs)
  • 12 new harder to read and spell (HRS) words

View the pronunciation of the Phase 2 sounds here:

Phase Three (Reception, Autumn 2, Spring 1, Spring 2) 

  • Oral blending
  • Sounding out and blending with 29 new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs)
  • 32 new harder to read and spell (HRS) words
  • Revision of Phase 2

View the pronunciation of the Phase 3 sounds here:

Phase Four (Reception, Summer 1)

  • Oral blending
  • No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs)
  • No new harder to read and spell (HRS) words
  • Word structures- cvcc, ccvc, ccvcc, cccvc, cccvcc
  • Suffixes
  • Revision of Phase 2 and Phase 3

Phase Five including alternatives and lesser-known GPCs

Reception, Summer 2

  • Introduction to Phase 5 for reading
  • 20 new GPCs
  • 16 new HRS words

Year 1, Autumn 1 and 2

  • Revision of previously taught Phase 5 GPCs
  • 2 new GPCs
  • 9 new HRS words

Year 1, Spring 1 and 2

  • Alternative spellings for previously taught sounds
  • 49 new GPCs
  • 4 new HRS words
  • Oral blending
  • Revision of Phase 2, 3 and 4

View the pronunciation of phase 5 sounds here:

Beyond Phase 5 (Year 1, Summer and Year 2 and KS2)

  • With ELS, phonics teaching does not stop at the end of Year 1, but continues as children move through the school, with links being made between their GPC knowledge and spelling
  • Revision of all previously taught GPCs for reading and spelling
  • Wider reading, spelling and writing curriculum


What do the Phonics terms mean?

Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a word, e.g. c/a/t,  sh/o/p, t/ea/ch/er.

Grapheme: A letter or group of letter representing one sound, e.g. sh, t, igh.

Clip Phonemes:  when teaching sounds ,always clip them short ‘mmmm’  not ‘muh’

Digraph: Two letters which together make one sound, e.g. sh, ch, ee, ph, oa.

Split digraph: Two letters, which work as a pair, split, to represent one sound, e.g. a-e as in cake, or i-e as in kite.

Trigraph:  three letters which together make one sound but cannot be separated into smaller phonemes, e.g. igh as in light, ear as in heard, tch as in watch.

Segmentation: means hearing the individual phonemes within a word – for instance the word ‘crash’ consists of four phonemes: ‘c – r – a – sh’. In order to spell this word, a child must segment it into its component phonemes and choose a grapheme to represent each phoneme.

Blending: means merging the individual phonemes together to pronounce a word. In order to read an unfamiliar word, a child must recognise (‘sound out’) each grapheme, not each letter (e.g. ‘th-i-n’ not ‘t-h-i-n’), and then mergethe phonemes together to make the word.

Adjacent consonants:  two or three letters with discrete sounds, which are blended together e.g. str, cr, tr, gr. (previously consonant clusters).

Comprehension: understanding of language whether it is spoken or written.


Reading schemes

We use the Oxford Reading Tree as our core reading scheme in EYFS and KS1.

Children share a book with an adult at school and are encouraged to read this at home too (see homework policy). Parents and Carers can record progress in a Reading Diary which is also used by members of staff. In this way, an overall picture of a child’s reading skills can be obtained.

The ORT books are carefully graded to build on prior learning and practise taught GPCs.

The table below show the ORT book levels and national ‘book bands’ matched to our Letters and Sounds phases.

By KS2, most children move onto a range of fiction and non-fiction texts with varying degrees of challenge dependent on the reading ability of the child.


Reading lessons

In EYFS, KS1 and LKS2, children read with their teachers in guided reading sessions. A range of appropriate text types are used for guided reading, with the text being slightly above the level the child would be able to read independently.

In LKS2 and UKS2, we use the whole class ‘Love to Read’ scheme to develop reading comprehension skills.

In LKS2, the books include:

  • Stig of the Dump, Clive King
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Family from One End Street, Eve Garnett
  • The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks
  • Thieves of Ostia, Caroline Lawrence
  • The Firework Maker’s Daughter, Philip Pullman
  • Demon Dentist, David Walliams
  • Greek Myths for Young Children, Heather Amery
  • The Iron Man, Ted Hughes
  • I Was There 1066, Jim Eldridge

In UKS2, the books include:

  • Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
  • Pig Heart Boy, Malorie Blackman
  • Tom’s Midnight Garden, Philippa Pearce
  • Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
  • Treason, Berlie Doherty
  • Holes, Louis Sachar
  • Northern Lights, Philip Pullman
  • Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken
  • Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, Michael Morpurgo
  • The Phoenix Code, Helen Moss
  • Sky Hawk, Gill Lewis


At Combe CE Primary School, we want all pupils to be writers who have:

  • The ability to write fluently and with interesting detail on a number of topics throughout the curriculum.
  • A vivid imagination which makes readers engage with and enjoy their writing.
  • A highly developed vocabulary and an excellent knowledge of writing techniques to extend details or description.
  • Well-organised and structured writing, which includes a variety of sentence structures.
  • Excellent transcription skills that ensure their writing is well presented and punctuated, spelled correctly and neat.
  • A love of writing and an appreciation of its educational, cultural and entertainment values.

Children write for a range of audiences and purposes across the year, as shown here. Where possible, writing tasks are linked with children’s CCC learning.



The ability to write fluently and legibly gives children a means to communicate their thoughts and ideas efficiently. Handwriting is a skill which must be learnt in order to provide a style which becomes simple to produce and easy to read.

At Combe CE Primary School we use a cursive handwriting style, once the children have learnt to form letters. We use cursive handwriting because it helps children to learn and remember spelling patterns. It is an integral part of the multi-sensory technique enabling pupils to make the automatic symbol-sound relationship for spelling. We believe this raises standards in handwriting throughout the whole school, developing confidence, accuracy and fluency and improved presentation.

Cursive writing:

  • Helps minimise confusion for the child as every letter starts on the line with an entry stroke and leads out with an exit stroke.
  • Aids the left to right movements through each word across the page and helps develop a child’s visual memory
  • Helps sequencing and prevents reversals, inversions and omissions.
  • Aids legibility, especially for those with motor and spatial difficulties, providing a motor training programme.
  • Letters naturally flow into each other, it is impossible to write separate letters without joining, therefore it will eventually help them to increase the speed of their writing.
  • Form spacing between words as the child develops whole word awareness

A cursive style of handwriting is recommended by the British Dyslexia Association.