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Phonics at Furze Platt Infant School


Through our rigorous and systematic approach to teaching phonics, we ensure our children develop the skills and knowledge they need to become confident, fluent readers who have a love of books. 


We have a whole-school approach and use Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) in Early Years and Key Stage 1. ELS is a Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme, validated by the Department for Education. The programme has been developed to ensure every child can read well, quickly.


The principles of ELS are based upon:

• the delivery of whole-class, high-quality first teaching with well-structured daily lesson plans

• the use of consistent terminology by teachers, children and parents

• the use of consistent resources that support effective teaching

• repetition and reinforcement of learning

• regular and manageable assessment to ensure that all children ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’


ELS whole-class, daily phonics teaching begins from the first weeks in Early Years. Through the rigorous ELS teaching programme, children will build an immediate understanding of the relationship between the sounds they can hear and say (phonemes) and the written sounds (graphemes).

• Adults follow the teaching sequence outlined in the ELS handbook and deliver four-part sessions to allow children to revisit previously taught sounds, learn new phonemes, and then practice and apply knowledge.


• Ongoing professional development for staff via coaching and training


• All phonics sessions build of children’s prior learning and ensure all children are involved throughout the session.

• New learning is quickly embedded because children are motivated and engaged throughout.

• All adults ensure children are actively involved during phonics lessons.

• All staff use ‘robot arms’ and ‘blending hands’ to model the segmenting and blending of a word.


• There is equal weighting of opportunities to read and write during phonics sessions.


• Staff ensure that phonics teaching is embedded and is therefore applied beyond the sessions through guided and independent reading, home reading and through phonics displays and continuous provision.

• All areas where phonics is taught have the following: ELS Wall frieze, ELS Poster, ELS phoneme mats


• All classrooms have an inviting reading area that is accessible to all children. 

• Children have access to a variety of high quality texts in all areas of the school. (Class reading areas, school library, a variety of key texts are used to support projects; a range of high quality non-fiction books are available in provision areas within the classroom)

• All adults articulate phonemes using pure sounds.


• Adults model expectations and give quality oral feedback regarding application of prior learning, presentation and letter formation


Early reading
As our children start their reading journey they will have materials that are closely matched to their phonics knowledge. Reading books mirror or supplement the phonics texts used in phonics lessons. These books are matched to the ELS phonics programme and will ensure that our children are presented with reading material to match their phonic knowledge and improve their fluency and reading confidence.  In this way, children will be encouraged to use their phonics skills and knowledge as their primary reading strategy. As children find that they can decode words quickly and independently, they will read more and more so that the number of words they can read automatically builds up.


Phonics reading books aligned to ELS




Ensuring All Children ‘Keep up’ Rather than ‘Catch up’
A whole-class approach 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.


Supporting children with EAL
Research shows us that people who are learning a second language require extensive repetition to help them embed their knowledge and transfer it into their long-term memory. To ensure that all children can access every part of the lesson, there is repetition of activities and routines throughout every lesson.