Phonics at The Link School

At The Link School we believe that for all of our children to become fluent readers and writers by the time they leave us in Year 6, phonics must be taught through a systematic, structured, synthetic phonics (SSP) programme from the very beginning.

In Phase 1

  • To develop the skills to understand and discriminate between auditory, environmental and instrumental sounds


In Phase 2-6

  • To develop phoneme, sound, grapheme, letter knowledge
  • To develop and apply blending and segmenting skills
  • To apply phonic knowledge as the prime approach to reading and writing
  • To develop the skill of phonetically decoding unfamiliar words
  • To explore spelling patterns and common exception words
  • To read and write more complex words by decoding and segmenting
  • To develop confidence, resilience and engagement and hopefully a love of reading and writing
  • To prepare children for the statutory Y1 phonics screening check


Overview of phases 1-6

Phase 1:

Experience a wealth of listening activities, discriminated between sounds, recognise rhyming strings

Phase 2:

  • Link phonemes and graphemes from this phase (s,a,t,p,m,I,d,n,g,o,c,k,ck,e,u,r), blend and segment CVC words,
  • Read and spell phase 2 tricky words (the, no, I , to, go)

Phase 3:

  • Link phonemes and graphemes from this phase (h,b,f,l,ff,ll,ss,j,v,w,x,y,z,zz,qu,ch,sh,th,ng, ai,ee,igh,oa,oo,oo,ar,or,ur,ow,oi,ear,air,ure,er), blend, read and spell CVC words, segment and phonetically attempt spellings,
  • Read and spell phase 3 tricky words (he,she,me,was,we,you,they, all, are, my, be, her)

Phase 4:

  • Blend and read words, segment and read words containing consonants blends,
  • Read phase 4 tricky words (said, like, come, have, so, do, some, were, there, little, one, when, out, what)

Phase 5:

  • Give any phoneme and grapheme, apply phonic knowledge and skills as a prime approach to reading and spelling, read and spell 2/3 syllable words, use variety of alternative long vowel diagraphs
  • Read and spell phase 5 tricky words (oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked)

Phase 6:

  • Read words accurately, read common suffixes, read common exception words, sufficiently fluent enough when reading to focus on expression, segment and make plausible attempts at more complex spellings, spell all common exception words correctly

We use Essential Letters and Sounds to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Reception and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.

At The Link School we model strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.


How we teach phonics

  • In infants, children follow the progression within Essential Letters and Sounds programme. Phonics is taught daily and there is a review session on a Friday.
  • Phonics is assessed as children join The Link School to determine a starting point within the first week of them joining.
  • Infant lessons start at 10 minutes, with daily additional oral blending tasks during tray time, an additional group/ 1:1 session is in place every Tuesday afternoon.
  • Children who are able to sit longer will be part of a focussed group, whilst children needing movement will carry out Essential Letters and Sounds activities with staff
  • In KS2, phonic lessons are taught daily to children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge, following the model of Essential Letters and Sounds and targeting specific gaps identified through assessment on entry.
  • In primary there are bespoke phonic- intervention sessions to address specific phonic/reading/writing gaps. These sessions are led by our intervention HLTA and follow the Essential Letters and Sounds model.


Reading sessions

  • Children across primary apply their phonics knowledge by using a decodable reader (matched to Essential Letters and Sounds) in a 1:1 daily session, during tray time.
  • These sessions are 5-10 minutes long (depending on ability to focus) and happen five times a week.
  • Opportunities are built into lessons to encourage children to read aloud to others
  • Infants have an additional reading session, individual and small groups, this lasts for 10 to 15 minutes, and focuses on applying phonics skills, developing fluency and interrogating texts
  • All guided reading sessions follow the model set out in Essential Letters and Sounds and use the matched decodable books.
  • Children in infants keep the same book for approximately a week, or until they can read the text with fluency.
  • Children who are not yet decoding, have blending lessons, following the model set out in Essential Letters and Sound, using matched blending books.
  • pre-readers share partner texts with adults, exploring the story through the images and text read by an adult.


How do we assess phonic knowledge?

  • In infants, each Friday there is a review session which recaps the learning. There are also review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks, the penultimate week of each half term) to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment.
  • Children in primary, who are thought to be in danger of falling behind, are immediately identified and daily intervention sessions are put in place (both in class and with our intervention HLTA) sessions follow the Essential Letters and Sounds programme.
  • In infants, and KS2 where needed, the children are assessed on entry and again at the end of every half term using the Essential Letters and Sounds assessment tracker.
  • The children in Y1 sit the Phonics Screening Check, dual registered children are registered with their mainstream school, and PEX children will be registered by The Link School.
  • Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Y1, will re-sit this in Y2, again dual registered children will be registered with their mainstream school and any PEX children will be register by the Link School.

Children who are in KS2 and have phonic/ reading/ writing gaps, are assessed on entry and then through teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments, additional intervention can be built into tray times or allocated to the intervention HLTA to implement.


Link School Springwell Dene
Swindon Road, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear  SR3 4EE

Tel: 0191 561 5777

Office Opening Times

Mon-Thurs: 8am – 4:30pm

Friday: 8am – 4pm

Link School Pallion
Waverley Terrace, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear SR4 6TA

Tel: 0191 561 4777



Verified by ExactMetrics
Verified by MonsterInsights