Talk for Writing child reading with finger

Core Comprehension Skills –
Getting Reading Right!

By Talk for Writing expert, Kathryn Pennington

This document is designed to bring together the ‘Big 3’ in order to support teachers, and those working with learners, in the assessment and teaching of reading. The ‘Big 3’ are the:

1. National Curriculum
2. Interim Frameworks
3. Standardised Assessment Tests

From my experience of both teaching and working with teachers, I am very much aware that it can be challenging at times to know what comprehension skills to focus on and when. If you’re in Year 2 or Year 6, do you prioritise the Interim Framework as you have a sneaky suspicion you will be moderated this year? Or should you focus on the areas which you know will be assessed in the SATs (those wonderfully worded Content Domain references)? But you are also very much aware that the coverage laid out in the National Curriculum is important too, as here they get their rich diet of reading… Plus, how do we ensure that Years 1, 3, 4 and 5 focus on all of the necessary skills, thereby allowing Years 2 and 6 to prioritise learning and teaching as necessary. Love or hate the old Assessment Foci 1-7, at least they gave guidance on the skills and areas of comprehension that we should be teaching.

This frustration led me to explore deeply the Big 3 and realised, as many of us have known for a while, that the Big 3 don’t always marry or compliment each other. So coupled with my knowledge of what skills children need to be able to comprehend, and a love of condensing documents to as fewer pages as possible, I decided to put this resource together.

As previously mentioned, this resource is designed to support teachers in both the teaching of comprehension skills and the assessment of them.

On Page 2 of this guidance there is a detailed explanation of the grid (I have used the KS1 version to demonstrate with but it is exactly the same for the KS2). For those of you who are familiar with the Big 3, you will see that there is nothing new in my resource, it has just brought them all into one place.

I have seen many schools simplify, condense or make the comprehension skills/foci (call them what you like but basically the things we need to teach children to unlock and develop comprehension). more child friendly. This is something that you may want to consider as a school but it is important that those teaching reading know: 1) the skills to be taught, 2) have a repertoire of strategies to help teach that skill and 3) know how to assess and, if appropriate, record it.

From working with schools, many are using this document in different ways e.g.

• cross referencing areas of strength & development against an analysis from moderation and SATs papers
• as an assessment recording tool for children
• to help leaders prioritise and audit their CPD needs.

However, you choose to use it, I hope that this document will prove helpful.

If you would like further training from Kathryn Pennington on Talk for Writing or reading, or to read feedback on her training, click the button below.

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The ‘Big 3’ are the:

1. National Curriculum
2. Interim Frameworks
3. Standardised Assessment Tests

Kathryn PenningtonDownload a PDF explanation of the resourceDownload the KS1 version of the PDF resourceDownload the KS2 version of the PDF resource