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Hilltop First School and Foundation Stage


“Synthetic phonics offers the vast majority of young

children the best and most direct route to becoming

skilled readers and writers”

Sir Jim Rose, Rose Review of Reading 2006



We teach systematic synthetic phonics using Letterland.  All children in Nursey-Yr1 have unique Letterland logins which they can use at home.  A small number of additional logins are available for older children who benefit from continued access.


"As Director of Training for Letterland International, it has been my privilege, over many years, to visit many schools both in the UK and around the world to observe, and support, teachers in many different circumstances. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of observing the engaging and well taught Phonics sessions in Hilltop. Your staff offer a very positive role model with their enthusiasm for sharing their knowledge and experience both in their own classroom and with each other and it has been a pleasure to spend time in their company and learn from them.  It has been a joy to watch your teacher’s expertise in their classrooms and to chat to children who are learning the various developmentally appropriate skills being shared with them,  but who also appear to enjoy their phonics lessons and indeed their school experience."                                                      

Lesley White - Letterland Director of Training




“A systematic phonics program teaches an ordered progression of letter-sound correspondences. Teachers don’t only address the letter-sound connections that students stumble over. Instead, they address all of the combinations methodically, in a sequence, moving on to the next once students demonstrate mastery. Teachers explicitly tell students what sounds correspond to what letter patterns, rather than asking students to figure it out on their own or make guesses.”

How Do Kids Learn to Read? What the Science Says (Sarah Schwartz & Sarah D. Sparks — October 2019)



The key focus is phonetic awareness including recognising and repeating rhyme and alliteration and hearing and moving to syllables and rhythm in words and phrases.


Starting in the Spring term, children are introduced to all 26 Letterland characters with their corresponding sound in alphabetical order.



We follow the sequence outlined in the 2021 updated Letterland handbook.  Letters are taught in a sequence which allows for early blending to read words and segmenting for writing.  Children must use the letter sounds in blending and segmenting and when looking at the printed letters.  Character names are prompts and are only used when the character picture is shown with the letter.


Letterland lessons occur every day and must include a range of multisensory activities linked to the target phoneme.  Magnetic letter rainbows and later whiteboards should be used in most lessons.  Letterland texts must be read frequently in class before they are set as home reading tasks so that the children are already able to read them with a high level of confidence and accuracy.


Year 1

Phonics lessons follow much the same pattern as in Reception with a greater emphasis on writing sounds and words.  Prepare and Share home learning tasks are based on previously introduced phonemes and recapped on the Friday when the tasks are returned to school.


Year 2

Phonics lessons begin to give way to lessons focussed more on spelling patterns (including suffixes and prefixes) and grammar rules.



Recognition of graphemes in isolation and blending in reading are assessed at agreed intervals using the Letterland assessment resources.  This allows adults to measure the success of teaching strategies and identify any graphemes that need further practise.


Why do we do it like this?

  • Much research shows that well taught synthetic phonics opens up reading and writing to children.

  • Daily lessons allow for ‘over teaching’ for quick recall and application.

  • Letterland is a multisensory synthetic phonics programme which is particularly appealing to young children.

  • It has proved to be popular and successful with our pupils in previous years.

  • A good range online resources makes continued learning at home easily possible.

  • Letterland is one of the DfE accredited phonics programmes.


“… research has shown that reading is not a natural process, and it’s not a guessing game. Written language is a code. Certain combinations of letters predictably represent certain sounds. And for the last few decades, the research has been clear: Teaching young kids how to crack the code—teaching systematic phonics—is the most reliable way to make sure that they learn how to read words. “

How Do Kids Learn to Read? What the Science Says (Sarah Schwartz & Sarah D. Sparks — October 2019)


We offer workshops during the year to guide parents and carers in supporting their children's development of Phonics and early reading skills.  Parents of pupils in Key Stage 1 are invited to join their children for our usual weekly fun practical session to practise Phonics and Grammar skills each Friday morning at 8:45.




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