Phonics in EYFS & Year One

At Hillcross our phonics Programme is Phonics International (PI). In the EYFS, pre Phonics is based upon Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds and the Development Matters statements.  This effectively prepares children to be able to access the PI programme. All elements of the National Curriculum expectations are also incorporated into this cohesive and progressive programme of teaching so that by the time our children leave Hillcross they will have the knowledge and skills they need to be confident and independent readers and writers. 


At Hillcross we recognise that the development of pre-phonics skills are crucial to enable children to access future phonological learning. As well as targeted ‘incidental’ teaching across the nursery session, all children will be involved in adult directed phonics sessions, in their class groups, based upon Phase One of Letters and Sounds and the Development Matters statements (22-36 & 30-50 months) in the areas of  Communication & Language and Reading.  The end of year expectations are that children with typical achievement will be secure at 30-50 months Development Matters (which is equivalent to 48 Months, EExAT) in Communication & Language, Reading & Writing). 

Ongoing assessment should include the use of the Early Excellence Assessment Tracker (EEXAT), Every Child A Talker (ECAT) small steps tracker and judgements against the Phase One Letters and Sounds objectives.  This will ensure support is provided for those who need it as well as enabling staff to extend those children with the potential to accelerate their learning. 

Nursery children will be exposed to graphemes and phonemes through incidental teaching and only when secure in pre phonics oral skills will they be specially taught individual phonemes and grapheme correspondence. For children who are accelerating within their Communication & Language and Reading skills, additional group’s sessions will take place across the week.


Phonics sessions will be taught four days each week, Mon to Thurs. Friday will be a Key Word focus day, with an additional handwriting session.  The end of year expectations are that children with typical achievement will be  secure in Unit 4 (AARE secure in Unit 5).

During the first two weeks of autumn term when the children are settling into full time education, there will be lots of teacher-led and child –initiated opportunities for children to recall and rehearse the knowledge and skills they have learnt in Nursery. This will include the development of YELs into formation of letters.  All children will be encouraged to develop their formation of a ‘diagonal lead in’.  After this, weekly focused handwriting sessions will be completed, in addition to the handwriting practice within the daily phonics session linked to the formation of those graphemes that correspond with the phonemes learnt.

  • Children will be exposed to incidental teaching in addition to daily phonics sessions which provide opportunities for children to embed their phonics skills.

  • All children will begin regular phonics home learning through a Phoneme book in Autumn Term. This book will go home daily and will include the phoneme being taught, as well as additional codes for children working at a higher level. The parents will be encouraged to revisit the day’s phoneme and find words to aurally blend and segment. When the children are confident they may wish to write the word phonetically, underneath the picture using the cursive script.

  • Guided Reading sessions will start in Week 3, Autumn 1, with all children focusing on pre phonics skills; oral blending & segmenting; rhyming; retelling of stories and reading of logos and print in the environment. Baseline assessments will enable staff to group children for Guided Reading sessions across the week.

  • Within the first half term, guided reading sessions will include the use of appropriate PI reading resources linked to the phonemes they have been taught.  Reading books have been organised to link to the PI Units and these are also used to provide both an opportunity to practice decoding and to develop reading awareness.

  • Reading materials will be sent home around October half term.  These will include one PI resource which will be fully decodable and one reading book which will be generally decodable but will also enable children to develop their broader reading skills.  
  • At the end of Autumn 1 PI assessments will be completed and children who are deemed to be struggling with the recall of phonics will be invited to Early Morning Booster sessions, once a week.  Phonics booster groups will continue to run throughout the year. They will target gaps in children’s learning and run for 5 weeks each half term. The children's attainment will then be reviewed and new invitations will be sent.

Year One 

In Year One, children will continue to be exposed to incidental teaching, across all subject areas, in addition to daily phonics sessions which provide opportunities for children to embed their phonics skills.

  • Children will be taught in their class groups.  

  • The main PI teaching unit for Year 1 is Unit 5, however, the teaching focus each week will be led by the most recent assessment that has taken place.

  •  PI resources will be used and children will focus on writing both devised and dictated sentences.

  • Children will be given opportunities to read Pseudo ‘Alien’ words.

  •  Key words will be practised daily, increased focus on spelling key words.

  • Lessons will be differentiated using the Alphabetic code.  Additional adults will be used so that an adult can directly support children less confident in their application of phonemes and graphemes within the lesson.


Hillcross Primary School, Ashridge Way, Morden, Surrey, SM4 4EE

020 8542 6936