Improving pupils’ reading at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2

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About this project

The six teaching school alliances (TSA) in Leicestershire have worked together, with MAT partners and the LA via SSIF funding to support a group of target schools in Leicestershire and Leicester City help create evidence informed improvement activity in reading.

The project focuses on improving reading outcomes of all pupils but particularly those receiving pupil premium or from traditionally working-class communities where levels of aspiration are low. Reading at KS1 and KS2 is identified as a priority both by the SRIB and through data by the Teaching Schools and Local Authority.

The data shows that Leicestershire schools are behind the national figures for reading. There is also a significant gap between those receiving pupil premium and the rest of the cohort. This is shown by the LA wide data below:

  • EYFS % disadvantaged reaching a good level of development (2016: 44.6% gap to Leicestershire cohort: 23)
  • KS1 %ARE in reading for disadvantaged (2017: 54.5% gap to Leicestershire cohort 23.4)
  • KS2 %ARE in reading for disadvantaged (2017: 57.8% gap to Leicestershire cohort: 18.6)
  • KS2 reading test average progress score for disadvantaged (2017: 1.5 gap to Leicestershire cohort 1.2)

The county wide KS2 reading progress figure in 2017 was 0.5 (compared to a nation figure of 0) and the LA wide figure for KS1 reading is 75% ARE, compared to 75.8% ARE nationally and compares poorly for an authority with relatively low levels of pupil premium.

The project focuses on the teaching of synthetic phonics, comprehension skills, and oral language skills at KS1 in line with recommendation 14 of the EEF guidance for improving literacy in KS1. At KS2 the focus is on developing language capability to support reading, teaching reading comprehension including reciprocal reading, and supporting pupils to develop fluent reading capabilities. The KS2 activity directly followed the EEF recommendations for KS2 literacy 13 with an additional focus on volume of reading.

Planned outcomes

The project has both short- and long-term outcomes. In the short-term schools will be engaged across their entire teaching staff, implementing evidence-based practice and approaches. Pupils’ confidence and ability in reading will improve, encouraging them to read more and start a virtuous circle of improvement. Teachers will become reflective practitioners by engaging with other schools in their cluster.

In the longer term an improvement in pupil outcomes is an expected result of the activity. Although an LA wide impact may not be apparent, from focused work with the target schools, a significant impact is expected on the reading outcomes i with a narrowing of the gap between LA wide and national figures.

About these resources

The resources have been developed by the 41 schools that participated in the project who were divided into 8 geographical clusters led by a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) to lead activity. Each cluster met 5 times in the year and schools worked together in their local clusters to support improvements in their approaches to the teaching of Reading as well as engaging in peer coaching sessions. The SLE also visited the cluster school twice during the project to support ongoing development of work and to capture key information, case studies and relevant resources. Each cluster was also provided with an ‘innovation fund’ to enable them to request some local training, resource purchase or improvement initiative to support their work. The resources developed are organised into six key themes. Each tab/theme includes a short introduction and a series of links to practical resources by Key Stage. It is worth noting at all the resources are true, accurate and relevant at the date of publishing although over time this may change. Staff involved in the project often referred to key individuals or organisations they followed or engaged with on social media. A list of these is given, as well as a short description, in the document titled ‘Who to follow on Twitter’.

Who to follow on Twitter


  • Language Comprehension
  • Parental Engagement
  • Reading and Quality Text
  • Reading Moderation & Assessment
  • Reading Research
  • Vocabulary

Language Comprehension

Comprehending language involves a variety of skills, processes and knowledge that are used to derive meaning from spoken, written, and signed language. The resources include several PowerPoint presentations, prompts and ideas from EYFS to KS2 to help children understand and become better readers. Click on 'read more' to link to the resources for EYFS KS1,and KS2.

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Parental Engagement

The EEF guidance report ‘Working with Parents to Support Children’s Learning’ (Dec 2018) recognises the crucial role parents play in supporting their children’s learning and how this can lead to better academic outcomes. The resources provide several presentations which can be used with colleagues and with parents to help increase engagement. Click on 'read more' to link to the resources.

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Reading and Quality Text

A growing number of studies show that promoting reading can have a major impact on children and adults and their future (DfE) and that reading for pleasure has more impact on a child's educational achievement than their family's wealth, parents’ level of education or social class (National Literacy Strategy Research). The resources in this theme provide a range of suggested age-related texts and picture books for use with children as well as creative ideas for reading spaces/environments/libraries. Click on 'read more' to link to the resources.

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Reading Moderation & Assessment

Teacher’s knowledge of their pupils informs judgements, and these should be objective, and evidence based as well consistent between classes and schools. Moderation is important to teacher assessment as it allows them to benchmark their judgements helping to ensure outcomes are reliable and consistent. The resources comprise a number of end of year reading expectations assessment sheets and a PowerPoint presentation to help moderation and assessment manageable and meaningful. Click on 'read more' to link to the resources for KS1 and KS2.

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Reading Research

The resources aim to pull together a number of key research papers, reviews and articles relevant to reading, fluency and comprehension. It also refers to some Kyra research on metacognition. This is summarised within a PowerPoint presentation which can be shared with colleagues. Click on 'read more' to link to the resources.

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Research about teaching inference and greater understanding points strongly at breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge being the biggest factor in reading progress. Written language is more complex than spoken, yet children need to speak it to use it and remember it. Our task is to develop reading skills to create opportunities to use and develop language in context. The resources provide several PowerPoint presentations for use in lessons as well as for use with colleagues providing a range of ideas, templates and strategies for improving pupils’ vocabulary. Click on 'read more' to link to the resources for EYFS, KS1 and KS2.

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Lead Teaching School - Affinity Teaching School Alliance
    Project Managers - Denise Shipstone and James Brown
      Project Administrator - Amy Richards
        SLE’s leading clusters
        • Alex Whitehouse – Ibstock Junior School (North Leicestershire)
        • Hannah Drury – Brocks Hill Primary School (Central South)
        • Estelle Ewing – Mowmacre Hill Primary School (Central)
        • Sian Ellis – Meadowdale Primary School (South)
        • Julia Hancock – Asfordby Captains Close Primary School (South West)
        • Kellie Roche – Sherrier C.E Primary School (West)
        • Phil Page – Sileby Redlands Community Primary School (Central North)
        • Simone Fellows – Woodstone Community Primary School (North East)

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