What do I need to know? – GovernorHelp analyses the updated DfE Reading Framework – PART 2


Welcome to Part 2 of this three part blog post by the team at GovernorHelp. In this post we continue to delve into the Reading Framework and our analysis.

Choosing and Organising Books

Organising Book Stock: The framework suggests ways of organising and promoting books, so that pupils are well supported to choose them by and for themselves. A school’s library is, in effect, its main bookshop. Categories for organising a school library’s stock might include core literature by year group, non-fiction by subject and year group, picture books for younger and older readers, poetry books, very short page-turners, short page-turners, sets of long page-turners, short ‘hi-lo’ non-fiction, and longer hi-lo fiction.

Choosing Books: The framework provides a guide for choosing books. It suggests that books should elicit a strong response, have a strong narrative that will sustain multiple readings, extend children’s vocabulary, have engaging illustrations, help children connect with who they are, and help children to understand the lives of people whose experiences and perspectives may be different from their own.

Decodable Books for Pupils Learning to Read: The framework emphasises the importance of ‘decodable’ books for pupils learning to read. These books are carefully graded by level or colour and should match the GPCs (grapheme-phoneme correspondences) that pupils can already decode.

Literature: Engaging pupils in literature gives them access to all the things we can learn from great books and stories. They should read, listen to, and talk about contemporary and classic writing by a broad and diverse range of authors. All pupils should encounter characters, situations, and viewpoints that mirror their own lives, so they understand that they matter. Books should also give them a window into the lives of others.

Developing a Reading for Pleasure Culture

Reading for Pleasure: The framework emphasises the importance of reading for pleasure. Emotional engagement makes a key contribution to pupils’ development as readers. It is impossible to mandate that pupils read for pleasure, but teachers can inspire pupils and engage them in reading widely. This depends, however, on embedding a school culture that values and supports reading for pleasure. This is a collective responsibility.

Strategic Approach: To nurture the reading habit, schools need a strategic approach rather than simply an eclectic mix of ‘reading for pleasure’ activities. Evaluation should take place regularly. Core strategies to encourage sustained, voluntary reading include adults reading aloud regularly, informal book talk, encouraging library use, providing time to read, and creating sociable reading environments.

Reading Habit: As pupils become older, competing demands can make it harder for them to sustain their reading habit. If pupils rarely read at home, the responsibility falls on the school to nurture this habit.

Motivation and Cognitive Differences: The framework discusses the entangled relationship between cognition and motivation, proficiency and engagement in reading. Teachers cannot improve reading skills without also taking into account access to interesting and meaningful reading materials.

Impact of Reading for Pleasure: Reading for pleasure has a powerful influence on children’s cognitive development, especially in terms of their vocabulary. Children who are good at reading do more of it: they learn more, about all sorts of things, and their expanded vocabulary, gained from their reading, increases their ease of access to more reading.

Reading Across the Curriculum

Access to Lessons Across the Curriculum: The framework emphasises that the whole curriculum matters in developing pupils’ reading comprehension, because good comprehension depends upon knowing a lot. Reading successfully in any subject depends upon pupils’ ability to read accurately and fluently, so that they can direct their attention to the knowledge they will learn from the text rather than to decoding it.

Talk and Discussion Across the Curriculum: Talk and discussion should continue to form an important part of all lessons into key stages 2 and 3 in all lessons, including English lessons. Discussion is not just talking; it is a way of thinking deeply about new knowledge and ideas, as well as a way of learning something new. Making sure that pupils talk throughout the lesson is particularly important for those who are learning English as an additional language.

Selecting Texts Across the Curriculum: The framework provides guidance on selecting texts across the curriculum. Subject leaders should work with class teachers to agree on which texts pupils will read in science and the humanities. Pupils should have the chance to read texts to explore ideas from lessons in more depth, learning at their own pace.

Audit: Reading Across the Curriculum: The framework provides an audit for current practice in reading across the curriculum. This includes whole-class interactive strategies with choral work and partner discussion to help pupils understand and remember what they are learning. Reading across the curriculum contributes to the reading culture; pupils are motivated to read related fiction and non-fiction in their own time.

Teaching Reading in the English Lesson

Explicit Instruction and Conscious Effort: The framework emphasises that teaching reading directly, through explicit instruction and conscious effort, works in tandem with all the other opportunities pupils need to become confident, keen readers. Effective teaching supports pupils to develop as readers through introducing a wide range of literature and non-fiction, explanations, modelling and support from the teacher for different aspects of reading, and allowing pupils to think deeply and discuss a range of rich and challenging texts.

Elements of Reading in English Lessons: Reading in English lessons is likely to feature a combination of the teacher reading aloud and pupils reading, both interspersed with discussion and the teacher’s explanations and modelling. Teachers need to judge how to combine these elements, both when planning reading lessons and ‘in the moment’ as they respond to pupils’ needs.

The Teacher Reading Aloud: Reading lessons will often be built around the teacher reading aloud, with pupils listening and thinking. Unlike story times, when the focus is purely on listening and enjoying a book, the reading in English lessons is more likely to be interspersed with discussion. The teacher will often be explaining new words, language patterns and ideas.

Staying in the Story: Considering the author’s craft can be useful where the lesson’s objective is to develop pupils’ writing. However, it can also break the spell which a great story can cast, preventing a listener from becoming absorbed in what is being read. If the aim is to inspire pupils to read in their own time as well as teach them to be skilled readers, questions and discussion about a text should stay within the text; it should not be analysed separately.

Reading in English Lessons: Reading can support all the areas of the English curriculum: spoken language, writing and spelling, and grammar and punctuation. The texts pupils read will contribute to these areas. However, if the reading in English lessons is merely transactional, undertaken only because it leads to writing or illustrates how a language feature works, the short-term goals are in danger of jeopardising the longer-term benefits of sustained reading.

National Assessments

Purpose of National Assessments: The key stage 2 tests and assessments are an essential part of ensuring that all pupils master the basics of reading, writing, and mathematics to prepare them for secondary school. They help teachers and parents understand how pupils are performing in relation to the age-related expectations of the National Curriculum and enable schools to identify where they might need more support.

English Reading Test: The English reading test focuses on comprehension (rather than fluency or word reading) and includes a mixture of text types presented at an increasing level of challenge. The specific elements from the national curriculum that the reading test assesses are set out in the framework. These should not, however, be used to plan the English curriculum.

Content Domains for Key Stage 2 Assessment: The eight content domains for the key stage 2 national assessment for reading are:

  1. Give/explain the meaning of words in context
  2. Retrieve and record information/identify key details from fiction and non-fiction
  3. Summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph
  4. Make inferences from the text/Explain and justify inferences with evidence from the text
  5. Predict what might happen from details stated and implied
  6. Identify/explain how information/narrative content is related and contributes to the meaning as a whole
  7. Identify and explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases
  8. Make comparisons within the text.

Scoring: All papers are marked externally and each pupil is given both a raw mark and a scaled score. The raw mark refers to the number of marks the pupil achieved on the paper. For reading at key stage 2, the highest possible mark is 50. Raw marks are converted into scaled scores. The scaled score allows results to be compared from one year to the next. A pupil who gains a scaled score of at least 100 will have met the expected standard; a pupil gaining 99 will be judged not to have met the standard. The maximum scaled score is 120. Because the tests may vary in difficulty each year, the number of raw marks needed to achieve a scaled score of 100 may change to reflect this variation.

Leadership and Management of Reading

Headteachers and Leaders: Headteachers are ultimately responsible for building the reading culture in their school and ensuring that the teaching of reading is as effective as possible. This requires headteachers and senior staff in primary and secondary schools to believe that all pupils can learn to read, promote a culture of reading for pleasure, make sure all pupils make sufficient progress to meet or exceed age-related expectations, build a team of expert teachers, ensure that ongoing assessment is sufficiently frequent and detailed, make sure pupils have access to engaging texts, and involve parents and families in supporting their children’s reading.

Disciplinary Reading in Secondary Schools: Reading in secondary schools is subject specific as well as general. Headteachers are responsible for ensuring that subject specialists consider the specific approaches reading requires; these approaches are likely to differ from subject to subject. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to subject-specific reading across the school is therefore unlikely to be effective.

Building a Team of Expert Teachers: In primary and secondary schools, headteachers should appoint a literacy lead (or reading lead), someone to manage the teaching of reading. The literacy lead should understand the principles underpinning a systematic synthetic phonics programme, become an expert in the school’s chosen phonics programme, and know how to assess pupils to identify the appropriate support they need.

Audit: Leadership and Management: The framework provides an audit for current practice in leadership and management. This includes the headteacher taking responsibility for building a strong reading culture, professional development being planned and effective so all staff become experts in teaching reading, the literacy/reading lead having expertise in and experience of teaching phonics, and leaders using summative assessments to plan professional development.


You can view the full DfE Reading Framework here

Join GovernorHelp Today!

Join today and start saving time, reducing your workload and improving effectiveness.
Subscribe to our

Stay up to date with our latest news, top tips and exclusive offers