Reading and Phonics



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At St Mary Redcliffe Primary, we believe that developing children as expert and enthusiastic life-long readers is a fundamental entitlement for every individual pupil. We place reading at the heart of our curriculum and provide a structured reading offer that allows children to become confident and passionate readers. We separate our reading offer into three strands to give the children the greatest opportunity to achieve these goals. 


  • Enable children to apply their knowledge of structured synthetic phonics in order to decode unfamiliar words with increasing accuracy and speed. 

  • Provide children with opportunities to read accurately, fluently and with understanding. 

  • Be able to read with expression, clarity and confidence. 


  • Read and respond to a wide range of different types of texts. 

  • Develop a wide ranging knowledge of vocabulary and strong grasp of grammar. 

  • Be able to use reading skills to read and understand content across other curriculum areas. 


  •  Provide opportunities for children to gain a life-long enjoyment of reading and books. 

  • Celebrate and promote books and reading across the school. 


How we teach phonics at SMRP?

We use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021.

We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4.

They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.

In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.

In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps.

For further details please see the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression. 

To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have an impact. Here is an example of one of the interventions

At SMRP we promote a 'phonics first' approach and in both our guided reading sessions at school and in the books children take home, texts are very closely matched to a child's current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading. In these crucial early stages of reading we primarily use books from Ransom Reading Stars Phonics or Oxford Reading Tree, to ensure complete fidelity to the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression we follow.

Implementation EYFS and KS1 Guided Reading 

Children in EYFS and KS1 have weekly guided reading sessions. The children work in small groups and read phonically decodable books that only contain phonics sounds that they have been taught. The books have been selected from Reading Stars Phonics collection which allow our children to access a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books. 

Each sessions allows the child to practice the following reading skills: 

  • Using phonics knowledge to decode words 

  • Read aloud to an adult 

  • Learn new vocabulary  

  • Read with fluency 

  • Read with expression

In addition to this, the teacher is able to assess the children against the reading objectives for each year group. 

Implementation KS2 Guided Reading  

  • Children in KS2 have 4  guided reading sessions a week. 

  • They are split into ability groups and throughout the week complete three different tasks.  

  1. pre-read task 

  1. teacher session 

  1. post-read task  

  1. Reading for pleasure  

The children will read a range of whole texts of different genres as well extracts from texts to support their reading skills and comprehension. 

The children will focus on reading objectives throughout their sessions and when working with the teacher they will be taught reading skill such as; 

  • vocabulary and word choices 

  • inference  

  • prediction 

  • explanation  

  • retrieval  

  • summary  

KS2 NFER testing: 

At certain points throughout the year (Autumn, Spring and Summer) each class will undergo a formal assessment for Reading – NFER. The NFER tests look at all aspects of reading across a fiction, non-fiction and poetry text. Teachers use the results from the formal assessment as well as their ongoing assessment to organise interventions and adapt the own teaching. 

What books will my child bring home? 

Your child will bring home:

  • Reading Book 

  • Chosen Book (from class library and/or school library) 

Reading Book 

This is matched to your child’s reading ability. In Reception and KS1 children will take home books that at matched to their current phonics lessons and therefore the children should be able to read the book fluently. Our home reading books are from Oxford Reading Tree scheme.  

Chosen Books 

This is a chosen book from the book corner, library or home that your child would like to read. Depending on what they have chosen, they may need some support to read it.  

Reading Buddy

All children have a log in to Reading Buddy where they can read books at their level online. The buddy will prompt children to support them with comprehension and quizzes will help assess children and inform teachers of progress. 

Reading with your child at home 

We recognise that a strong home-school partnership, with shared reading values, is an essential factor in every child’s successful reading development. We ask parents to support our reading aims and vision by reading, talking about and enjoying books with their child, at least four times a week. We also offer parent training and workshops to support parents to achieve this aim. 

Contact Us

Happy to answer any questions

If you require paper copies of any information from the website please contact the school office. 


  • Windmill Close Windmill Hill Bristol BS3 4DP

Telephone Number