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Reading Skills and Knowledge

This document clarifies the knowledge and skills linked to reading for each year group, with key questions to drive learning during reading time. 

Reading Spine

At Morton Trentside, we teach children both how to learn to read and to read to learn. Learning to read focuses primarily on the phonics skills of the children and being able to decode and blend sounds to read. This also includes alien words and high frequency words. Reading to Learn focuses primarily upon the reciprocal reading skills children require to read for pleasure and to develop subject knowledge. These reciprocal reading skills are taught explicitly in our weekly reading skills lessons, in groups or whole class. We plan our English lessons around high quality core texts, which also link to the topics and themes for that term.

We have identified key anchor texts for every English unit taught in a year group. We have ensured our selected texts represent a wide range of diversity in both authors and protagonists and are engaging to encourage a love for reading. A diet of fiction and non-fiction is promoted within our Reading Spine.

6 Ps of Fluent Reading / Prosody


The 6 P's (pitch, punctuation, pause, passion, power and pace) are a great way for pupils to learn how to read aloud effectively; the skill of making reading aloud sound like natural speech patterns and intonations is called prosody. Year 3 have been learning about how to use the 6 P's within their reading aloud this year to add interest.

Parent help - how can I support at home when listening to my child read?


Reading using the Question Matrix


The Question Matrix is very useful for constructing questions when listening to a child read.


Some questions can be thought of by using the words in the top-left corner of the grid (e.g. 'What is the colour of the boy's hair?', 'Where is Dad in the picture?', 'When did Mr Stink make that noise?' or 'Which animals can you see?'). These are called 'literal' or 'retrieval' questions, as they ask a reader to find and retrieve the information that has literally been given to them by an author or illustrator. This is sometimes called 'reading on the lines' as the information is there.


Higher-order questions can be made by using the words towards the bottom-right corner of the grid (e.g. 'Why would Harry react that way?', 'How might you have reacted if you were there?', 'Why might Charlie be running home with the ticket?', 'Who will Charlie tell first and why, do you think?').

These questions fall into two categories:
- 'deduction' questions, which ask a reader to consider what the author has told them and what could be implied by that (as these require more careful thinking about what is on the page, this is sometimes called 'reading between the lines');
- and 'inference' questions, which ask a reader to think about what has been implied and use their wider knowledge of the world to understand what the author might mean (this is sometimes called 'reading beyond the lines').

For example, a character in a book may step outside and put up their umbrella. The implication is that it is raining (which would be a deduction) but a reader could make the inference that the setting is Britain as the reader knows that it frequently rains in that country.


Questions used in school, both for our assessment and for national tests such as SATs, use a range of these questions. We therefore suggest having this matrix to hand when spending time listening to your child reading and playing an active role in that by asking questions, which will push their understanding of a text much further!

The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity that provides research into best practice within the classroom. Their 'Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2' guidance report includes a poster of suggestions for questions to support and challenge when listening to a child read. This can be found below.