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Phonics Information

At Kerem, Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. By using this scheme, we are drawing on the already excellent practise of our teachers and ensuring that the teaching of Phonics (including tricky words) and early reading are well embedded, and have clear progression. This ensures that children’s learning of Phonics stays in their long-term memory, which is vital in our aim of ensuring that children become confident, fluent readers. Click here to access an overview of the progression of Phonics teaching at Kerem. The following documents offer further information about the sounds that pupils will learn in each phase of their Phonics learning:


Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 5 


Reading Books


In the lower school (Reception to Year 2), children go home with both paper and e-books that have been carefully matched to their Phonic knowledge. 


In Reception, initially, the children are given a book either with words or just a picture book. A book with words is given when the child is able to sound talk. If your child is unable to sound talk they will receive a picture book until we feel they are ready. Books are changed once or twice a week, depending on the child’s ability. The class teacher will communicate with parents to ensure they know which days the books are changed. 


Reading books are changed twice a week in Year 1 and three times a week in Year 2. Class teachers will communicate with parents to ensure that they know which days the books will be changed on.


From Year 3 onwards, the children’s reading books become longer and therefore, the days on which they are changed will vary according to the length of each book. Class teachers will communicate with parents to ensure that they know how reading books are managed in each class. 


Children will need the support of an adult to listen to them read at home and encourage them to read with confidence, fluency and expression. For this reason, we ask that children read their reading book at least twice at home before it is changed. Click here for our guidance on how to support your child when reading their reading books at home. This information can also be found on the inside cover of your child’s reading record. 


Children will be sent home with a varied range of book types. These book types include:


Decodable Reading Books

Decoding simply means reading - we do this by applying our knowledge of the letters we see and the sounds they make. A decodable reading book means that the text will only consist of sounds that the children have been taught so far in their Phonics lessons. Class teachers will send home this type of book in order to consolidate children’s most recent Phonics learning. Although children may still require support when reading a decodable reading book, they will not have to guess or encounter a sound that they haven’t learnt yet.



E-books enable children to access books from the ELS Phonics scheme online. All of our ebooks are also decodable books. Each week, children will be assigned one e-book to read in addition to a physical book. The e-books are accessed via the Oxford Owl website, which can be found at this link. In Reception, your child will receive their login details once they start their Phonics lessons. In Year 1 upwards, children can find their login details inside the front cover of their yellow reading record. 


Shared Reading Books

Your child’s reading practice may also be supplemented with ‘shared reading’ books. These are reading books that may contain some words with sounds that are not fully decodable to them yet. This is when the reading becomes a shared process between adult and child; instead of asking children to guess until they are correct, the adult reading with the child can help and join in. These books will be labelled with a ‘shared reader’ label. 


Free Readers

Once children have learnt enough Phonics, most books become decodable to them. They will then be able to select books from their class reading corner to take home as their reading book, instead of being matched with a book by a teacher. This is called a ‘Free Reader’. Children are expected to move onto Free Readers by the time they leave Year 3. 


Supporting Phonics Resources

Each week, children will be sent home with flashcards containing the sounds they have been taught in each Phonics lesson. They will also be given flashcards for ‘Tricky Words’. Tricky Words are words that do not follow the Phonics rules that children have learnt so far, meaning they must learn the whole word by sight as Tricky Words cannot be decoded. Some tricky word examples include ‘the’, ‘you’, ‘me’, ‘was’ and ‘people’. It is important for parents to consolidate their child’s learning by practising the flashcards they receive each week until your child can read them confidently. 



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