Southmead Primary School

Southmead Primary School

Headteacher: Mr Nicholas Plumb

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Phonics and Reading


Miss Wyles is our Phonics Lead.

At Southmead School, we prioritise the teaching of reading. We passionately believe that teaching children to read and write with fluency and independently, as quickly as possible, is one of the core purposes of a primary school. These are the keys to unlocking the rest of the curriculum and also have a huge impact on the children’s self-esteem and future life chances.


We strive to teach every child to read effectively and quickly. We follow the key principles of Letters and Sounds, along with a variety of other resources, to teach synthetic phonics, common exception words, decoding and encoding words. The five phonics phases are covered from Reception to Year 2, followed by the Decision Spelling Scheme which is begun in Year 2 and continued throughout the rest of the school.


We teach the children to:

  • Read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • Develop the habit of reading widely  and often, for both pleasure and information
  • Write clearly, accurately and coherently.

To ensure that children are enthused, engaged and successful lifelong readers and writers we implement the following:

  • Daily phonics sessions, where the children review the phonemes they have learned previously; learn new phonemes; improve their ability to segment and blend phonemes and their ability to apply this knowledge to their reading and writing.
  • Children learn the 44 common sounds from the English language; they are taught how to blend these sounds to decode words.
  • In Reception we begin teaching Phase 1 which allows children to tune in and become aware of sounds in their environment and sounds they can create themselves using their body and instruments. Phase 1 is continued through Key Stage 1 in order to support children’s listening skills.
  • Phase 2 is started in Reception, this teaches children the first 23 phonemes. They will begin to recognise, form and use these sounds in simple consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words. They will begin to read and write simple words and captions. Once they are confident in this, they will begin to read texts that have words made from the sounds they know.
  • Once the children are secure in Phase 2, they will move onto Phase 3. They will continue to learn new phonemes, improving their reading fluency and develop a greater writing ability.
  • Phase 4 consolidates the phonemes learned by blending adjacent consonants.
  • In Year 1 Phase 5 is the main focus, although intervention and catch up groups are used to fill in any gaps for specific individuals or groups of children.
  • In Year 2 Phase 5 is reviewed before moving on to the Decision Spelling scheme.
  • In each phase there is a set of Common Exception Words (words which are not phonetically decode-able). Children learn to read and write these words.
  • Children are assessed regularly. This informs teacher’s planning and if any interventions are needed.

Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1. Children can then focus on developing fluency and comprehension throughout the school. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1.


*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.


Mrs Fryer is our Reading Lead.

Tim Rasinski

We read to have our hearts touched.


At Southmead , as well as improving reading skills, we develop a love of reading for pleasure and appreciate it as a way of opening the door to life long learning and enjoyment.

Intent for Improving skill at reading

We are determined that:

  • Every child will learn to read, regardless of background, needs or abilities
  • All pupils, including those who find reading difficult, make sufficient progress to meet or exceed age related expectations.
  • Children are able to develop vocabulary, language comprehension and love of reading through stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction shared across the curriculum.
  • Children are familiar with, and enjoy listening to a wide range of stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction.
  • Southmead’s phonics programme matches or exceeds expectations of the National Curriculum and the Early Learning Goals
  • Staff at Southmead are clear on expectations of pupils phonics progress from reception to Year 2
  • The sequence of reading books shows cumulative progression in phonics knowledge that is matched closely to the schools phonic programme.
  • Teachers will give pupils sufficient practice in reading and re-reading books that match the grapheme-phoneme correspondences they know both in school and at home.
  • Reading, including the teaching of systematic, synthetic phonics is taught from Reception.
  • Ongoing assessment of pupils’ reading and phonic progress is sufficiently frequent and detailed to identify any pupil struggling to maintain the pace. Targeted intervention and support is given.
  • Staff at Southmead have developed and maintain sufficient expertise in the teaching of reading and phonics.
  • ReThink reading sequences will be used in every year group from Year 1 to Year 6 to systematically improve children’s ability to read and respond to texts.
  • Children are exposed to a breadth of high quality texts during the teaching of writing where texts are analysed and deconstructed.


Intent for developing children’s love of reading

We give all children the opportunity to enter the magical worlds that books open up to them. We promote reading for pleasure as part of our reading and wider curriculum.

We aim to ensure that:

  • Children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors and to review books objectively
  • Children ain a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles
  • Children build preferences in reading and choose to read a variety of texts
  • Children recognise individual authors and styles of reading that they enjoy
  • Children engage in book discussions alongside both adults and peers
  • Children are given the opportunity to  share and recommend books


  • Well chosen and engaging curriculum texts
  • Sharing books in assemblies
  • Carefully selected texts for class story time, some of which are from the Pie Corbett Reading Spine for each year group.
  • Opportunity for children practice own reading independently as well a in guided groups and whole class situations
  • Involvement in World Book Day activities to share a love of books
  • When possible, Year 2 visits to local library
  • Class book corners to create a positive reading environment
  • Library stock and classroom books refreshed regularly to maintain high quality and interesting texts.
  • Lunch Time reading club
  • Participation in the Rotary Debating competition
  • Teachers model reading fro fluency and understanding
  • Rich language highlighted and emphasised across the curriculum
  • Reading buddies (when possible after COVID) to enable paired reading across year groups
  • Book shares across year groups (COVID allowing)
  • Use of Library van to exchange and replenish classroom book stock
  • Use of Schools Library topic boxes each term to select high quality texts to support teaching and enjoyment.
  • Individual reading programmes to support poorest readers including Reading Eggs, Nessy and literacy Planet
  • Specialised Reading Recover Teachers in each Key Stage to support the progress of most vulnerable pupils identified through careful screening.

As a result we are fostering  a community of enthusiastic readers who are able to use reading strategies across the curriculum to further their learning and ready them for life beyond Southmead. Children love talking about books and their reading, sharing ideas and favourites. 


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.


We use language, synthetic phonics letters and sounds, floor books (vocabulary clip boards) and planning based on quality texts linked to themes. Children complete guided and independent writing, indoors and outdoors, gross motor skills and fine motor skills activities, ‘Dough Disco’, ‘Fun Fit’ and ‘Write Dance’. Children are taught to reading for pleasure and play. We send home a phonetically-decodable book to read and a library book to share together.

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  • Farah 1940
  • Watson 1800
  • Hawking 2039
  • Malala 1790
  • Key Stage 1: 92.5%
  • Key Stage 2: 93.4%
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