A spotlight on: Reading success in Key Stage One - an Advisory teacher's insights

Published on: 
Thursday, 19 December 2019 - 2:04pm
Katie Myles, Primary Advisory Teacher


Katie Myles is a member of our expert teaching team and an experienced teacher who has taught across the primary phases.  As a member of the teaching team Katie writes and develops our course content and our detailed planning for high quality texts, as well as delivering training at our centre and in schools across the country.


Young children moving from the Early Years into Key Stage One are at an important moment in their reading journey. These early readers are beginning to gain control of the reading process and with the right support they will be set up for success in reading by the time they transition into Year 3. But learning to read is a complex process and one that places great demands on a young child’s cognitive ability and their emotional willingness to take visible risks.

For the past academic year, I have had the pleasure of working both 1:1 and alongside a small group of Key Stage One pupils. This experience has reinforced my confidence in the knowledge that early readers need to have continued and sustained experiences of reading for pleasure and purpose within a balanced reading programme. The children I worked with had certainly developed some key reading skills but they were finding it hard to sustain the will to read. It was clear to me from this that the time spent on teaching reading in Key Stage One needs to be geared towards fostering positive reading attitudes and in constantly maintaining children’s confidence in reading.

As with all good quality teaching and learning, teaching reading begins with knowing and planning for individual pupils and developing a holistic view of the children as readers. With the children I worked with, I began the sessions by exploring their reader identity through using techniques such as a Reading River and conducting a perception survey. I asked the children questions such as; what is reading and why do you do it? What one book would you recommend to me and why? Are you a good reader? How do you know? What advice would you give to someone younger than you to help them become a better reader?

Hearing the children’s answers gave me insight into both the implicit and explicit messages that the children were hearing… about what reading is and why we do it, and how they had already formed quite fixed ideas of themselves as readers at a young age. I also spent time sampling the children’s reading, using both informal assessments and also running records, as well as using the CLPE Reading Scales. This allowed me to gain a sense of the child’s strengths as a reader as well as where there were gaps and what planning was needed to help the child move forward on their reading journey.

The sessions I had with the children often began with a book browse which introduced the children to new and high quality books. These books were rich in vocabulary with supportive features and some had particularly strong shapes and tunes that enabled these children to learn how to co-ordinate the use of phonic, semantic and syntactic cues as they became increasingly fluent readers. They were also texts strong enough to promote deeper discussion and reflection.

Some of the books we enjoyed together included, Claude and the City by Alex T. Smith, The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Mrs Noah’s Pockets by Jackie Morris, Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke, The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros and Little Red by Bethan Woolvin. All of these are featured on the CLPE’s Core Collection. They are texts that allow the children to apply their growing reading skills and strategies but also enable them to explore rich texts and develop their comprehension and inference skills at the same time.

Following the sessions, I wanted to encourage the children to practice their reading independently. Books by popular authors, and based around themes and topics that interested the children were a great starting point for supporting the children to branch out into independent reading. Books in a series worked particularly well as the children enjoyed the comfort of returning to the familiarity of the known characters and settings as well as engaging in the ‘book gossip’ and talk that comes with sharing books that it is likely their friends and peers are also enjoying. A series such as the Rabbit & Bear books by Julian Gough are an excellent example which would enhance any Key Stage One book stock. 

Working in a small group and individually with children, my sessions have shown me what the key components of an effective Key Stage One reading curriculum are. These finding have informed the CLPE’s one-day course Teaching Reading in Years 1/2. Children at Key Stage One need time dedicated to varied reading experiences. Reading provision therefore needs to include a planned read aloud programme, shared and group reading, one-to-one reading, time for independent reading and a systematic, synthetic phonics programme.

Crucial is a rich reading curriculum, which ensures a balance of reading approaches and experiences which allow teachers to develop both fluency and comprehension and ultimately develop young readers who can and do read for pleasure.


Find out more about our courses that support teachers in KS1:

Inspiring Writing in Years 1 and 2 - 11th February 2020

Supporting Transition - Foundation Stage to Key Stage 1 - 24th February and 30th March 2020

Planning the Curriculum around a Quality Text in Years 1 and 2 - 2nd March 2020

Let's Write! Improving Reading and Writing Using Poetry with A.F. Harrold - 11th March 2020

Early Phonological Awareness through Rhyme and Song with Steve Grocott - 20th May 2020