Monksmead School

Respect, Reflect, Believe, Succeed


Further information for new families who are joining our Early Years classes can be found here.

Teacher: Mrs Cornwell

TAs: Ms Sweeney, Ms Stalham, Ms White, Mrs Smith, Mrs Altayar, Mrs Cahill


News from Reception




Autumn 2023

Dear Parents,


It has been lovely to meet all of the children: some familiar and some new faces.

Initially our main priorities are settling the children into the class routines and expectations. We will be getting to know the children and supporting them to develop key skills such as listening, being ready to learn, following instructions and understanding expectations. As these develop and once all of the children have started full time, we will gradually add more whole class teaching which will ultimately include daily phonics, literacy and maths sessions. The children have a weekly PE session with Mr. Murrin on a Wednesday morning when I am out of class. We will also explore different themes in RE and PSE mostly through stories and the children explore different creative and scientific based activities through the provision and activities that are set up around the classrooms. We will also have the use of the Nursery space this year.

In order to support the children’s learning in Phonics, it is my intention to post regular updates on Tapestry, of the new sounds that the children have learnt and how we teach these, with some ideas of activities.

Our first topic is ‘Marvellous Me‘ where we can get to know the children and they can share their likes and dislikes. Please see the topic map (below) for more information. As part of this topic, we would like to display a family photo (only one please) for each child. This can provide a great talking point but also be reassuring for children who may be missing their loved ones as they transition into school. Please send photos in as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to catch me after school.


Best Wishes,

Mrs Cornwell





Below are some reminders which you should have seen in your welcome pack and heard about at our information meeting, but I thought it would be useful to list them again as we realise it is such a busy time and many things are new for a lot of parents and carers.



  • Please ensure that we have a completed All About Me form and Tapestry consent form for your child.
  • Contact details and medical information must be kept up to date.
  • The school day 8:45 -3:15. Once the classroom door is closed, then children should be taken to the office to sign in late.
  • If your child has sickness or diarrhoea they must be kept at home for 48 hours after the last episode i.e. a full 48hours clear of symptoms.  Children who are poorly at school will be kept away from other children and should be collected promptly. Please phone or e -mail the office, with a brief reason. if your child is going to be absent.
  • School uniform for Reception –blue joggers or shorts, white polo shirt and blue school cardigan or jumper. Shoes should be Velcro trainers, please (no laces).   (NO summer dresses or playsuits or skirts)
  • Every item of uniform and all belongings (lunchbox etc ) should be clearly named.
  • Please send in a change of clothes, in a small bag, to stay in school just in case your child has a toileting accident or gets wet during play.
  • Reading folders should be sent into school daily in a blue book bag (no rucksacks please as they do not fit in drawers or on pegs.)
  • Every child needs a named water bottle in school, everyday please.
  • Children need a waterproof coat and wellies, We ask for wellies to stay in school. We do go out in most weathers, so it is important that the children have suitable attire.
  • If you are able to contribute £5 per half term, we use this voluntary contribution as a Toy Fund to top up consumable resources as well as to buy specific items that maybe need replacing or that would enhance the children’s learning and experiences in a certain area.
  • Lunches: Children can choose on the day whether they would like a school lunch (these are free!) or a packed lunch. Packed lunches must be NUT FREE. Please discuss lunch choices with your child each morning before they come into school so they feel happy about what they are having.
  • Please do keep an eye on the school website and look out for the Friday newsletter in your inbox.

Reception Timetable 

Phonics and Reading


We follow a DfE validated systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme called Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS).



What is phonics?

Synthetic phonics is a way of teaching children to read. It teaches children how sounds are represented by written letters. Children are taught to read words by blending these sounds together to make words. For example, they will be taught that the letters ‘m-a-t’ blend together to make ‘mat’.

A synthetic phonics programme, such as ELS, provides a structure for teaching these sounds in a certain order to build up children’s learning gradually. It is used daily during Reception and Year 1 to teach all the sounds in the English language.

How is ELS taught in school?

With ELS, there is a daily phonics lesson where children are taught a new sound, or where they review sounds learned earlier in the week. This is shown to the class on the whiteboard.

Children learn the letters that represent the sounds. They are then asked to read words and sentences with the new sounds in. Children will also practise writing the letters that represent the sounds.

Additional support

ELS is delivered using a whole-class approach. This ensures that all children benefit from the full curriculum. Children who encounter difficulties are supported by the teacher throughout the lesson, and where further support is required, ELS has three interventions to ensure that any learning gaps are quickly filled. These are intended to be short and concise. This helps ensure that children do not spend excessive time outside of the classroom or in group intervention sessions where they are removed from the rest of the curriculum.


It is important that children’s progress is assessed thoroughly, so that any gaps can quickly be identified.

Assessment of the children’s reading skills is key to ensuring that all children make rapid progress through the programme, and that they keep up rather than catch up.

We assess children’s phonic knowledge in the fifth week of each half term, to allow all members of staff to target and close any gaps that may be present in either sound knowledge or reading skills. By undertaking assessment in the fifth week we are able to action a direct intervention before any upcoming school holidays.

Decodable readers

It is vital that whilst children are learning to read, they read books that match their phonic knowledge. The Oxford University Press decodable readers support Essential Letters and Sounds and have been carefully matched to every aspect of the programme. We use these books in school and as take-home readers.

How can I help at home?

Practising the sounds

You can help your child practise the sounds they have been learning at school. Download the charts from the Oxford Owl for Home website so you can see the list of sounds in the order they’ll be taught: Essential Letters and Sounds - Oxford Owl You can show these to your child along with the picture to help them remember.

Reading decodable books

Your child will bring home reading books with words that use the sounds they have been learning in school. You may hear these reading books called ‘decodable books’. Use the prompts inside the front and back covers to enjoy the book together and help your child practise reading.

By reading and re-reading texts both in school and at home we offer children the opportunity to develop a cohesive orthographic map of the words within our language. This in turn helps to build their reading fluency. The more you can read at home with your child, the better. We ask that children read the decodable reader they bring home at least three times during the week.

You can find more information about ELS, including the order the sounds are taught in, on the Oxford Owl website: Essential Letters and Sounds - Oxford Owl



Please click on the links below to see the sounds the children learn as part of ELS.


Phase 2 sounds Phase 3 sounds Phase 5 sounds

To support their love of reading, children will also be encouraged to choose a 'sharing book' - this is a book that may or may not be fully decodable but can be enjoyed with parents and family members as a book to read together.



Topic Maps - Autumn Term 2023

Marvellous Me!