Southmead Primary School

Southmead Primary School

Headteacher: Mr Nicholas Plumb

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Phonics and Reading


Phonics is taught from the foundation stage using Letters and Sounds, a daily programme for the teaching of phonics.  This is a systematic synthetic phonics* programme through which children are taught how to build unfamiliar words by understanding letters as sounds and learning to build and blend these. Children are encouraged and supported to use their skills in phonics in all aspects of their writing in the classroom.  

As children move into year 2 phonics continue to be taught and revisited. Children then move onto a spelling programme, where strategies for spelling and learning new words are taught. Word investigations, spelling practice and use of dictionaries are all used to develop these skills.


*Synthetic Phonics is a way of teaching reading.
Children are taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound(s) they represent – so, they are taught that the letter l sounds like llllll when we say it. Children can then start to read words by blending (synthesising) the sounds together to make a word.

For further information on the way in which children are taught the sounds please refer to Oxford OwlThis will provide tips for reading and sounding out letters for blending.

Jolly Phonics Letter Sounds

Listen to the 42 letter sounds of Jolly Phonics. Each letter sound is clearly spoken twice, before an example word is given.


We promote reading throughout the school to encourage children to love books and reading and develop the skills to enjoy a life long love of reading.

Early readers use colour band books. These are texts which are graded to suit the ability of the individual child.

The colour bands begin with developing skills for reading using books with a pink grading, children then progress through from red, yellow, blue, green orange, turquoise, purple, gold and then white.













Before children move onto the next colour band they are assessed through a system called Benchmarking. Children work with an adult on a 1:1 basis. They read the book and any errors are recorded.  The children are then asked very specific questions about the book to find out about their skills of retelling and understanding. The errors are then carefully calculated and the child is given a reading score. If the reading score is high and the understanding and retelling is accurate, the child will then move onto the next colour band.

Teachers use the benchmark assessments to identify any areas for development, so that these can be addressed in class. This assessment system means that children move through the book band colours at a pace which is appropriate for them.

Children who have completed working through these colour bands then select their own books, guided by the class teacher.

Alongside colour bands, we also use a wide range of quality books, both fiction and non-fiction, where children are encouraged to read for pleasure and share their books with an adult. Books are displayed and available in all classrooms for the children to use. Children are encouraged to read different genre and to experience a wide range of reading.

A love of reading is also shared through class stories where children become familiar with high quality texts.

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