Developing Reading Strategy (Years 2-4)


Our 'Developing Reader' strategy explains how we develop fluency and comprehension skills in children once they have mastered basic phonic decoding. This strategy is usually used for children in years two to four. 


Where this fits in:

In Reception and Year 1 children will be encouraged to master the building blocks of reading by focusing on synthetic phonics and blending sounds to make words. Whilst the children in Reception and Year 1 will be learning about how to comprehend a text, they won’t be using all the approaches found in later years. See our ‘Early Reading Strategy’ for more information.


What is a ‘Developing reader’?

By the time a child has finished Year 1, they should be secure in using decoding skills as a result of good phonic knowledge. A child who has reached the end of the Phonics Programme, at Blackhorse, is now secure with their use of phonics to decode. We aim for all children to pass the phonics screening test, although a small minority of children may not (although this will still be our ambition for all). Children not securing this skill by the end of Year 1 will received additional support in Year 2 and will re-sit the test at the end of this year.


Moving from decoding to fluency:

Between Year 2 and Year 4, children will move from decoding words through blending aloud to automatically blending mentally and developing an increasingly large sight vocabulary. A child by the end of Year 2 should be able to read 90 words per minute.


How we check fluency:

The school formally assess fluency termly in Year 2 (six times per year) and then three times per year in Years 3-4, using the school’s own colour banding system (Children in Years 3-4 reading below expectation may need to be assessed more frequently). This is done by hearing a child read a 100 word extract from a book which is a level above the band they are currently reading within. The child will need to read with 95% accuracy (roughly 95/100 words) and with sufficient pace to maintain meaning. Below 95% accuracy, a child will not be in a position to comprehend the text. Children in Years 2-4 will also be expected to pass a comprehension exercise (80% correctly) to move on to the next band.

Teachers will hear all children read as part of their reading lessons, but will also hear individual children read three times per week if they are behind their peers and at risk of not becoming fluent readers. In Years 2-4 we would expect children to be using other taught fluency skills in addition to decoding e.g. self-correction, contextual clues etc.


How we ensure children develop fluency in Years 2-4:

When teachers model reading during the daily reading lesson, teachers’ will focus more specifically on how we identify unknown words (words which are decodable but which a child may not know the meaning of). Teachers will also teach vocabulary through books and specific subjects.


Children will first read a text to familiarise themselves with the vocabulary in reading and all other lessons and the teacher will explicitly teach the meaning of unfamiliar words and words with multiple meanings.   


Children who are in danger of not mastering fluency:

Children across the school have access to a dedicated Reading Intervention Team (RIT) who work with children who are not becoming fluent readers at the same rate as their peers. These children are identified termly by the English Leads, SENDCO and Reading Intervention Team, in consultation with the class teacher following Pupil Progress Meetings between teachers and leaders.

Children receiving support are given specific targets e.g. developing vocabulary or context skills and will work with a RIT Teaching Assistant three times a week on this (either 1-to-1 or in small groups). Inference Training is used where appropriate for these children, along with bespoke programmes which focus on their greatest area of need. This is reviewed three times per year.


Supporting children in developing comprehension:

Between Year 2 and Year 4 children need to master more complex comprehension and read for meaning. Children in these ‘developing reader’ years are taught to identify the meaning of texts by modelling and practicing key strategies regularly.

Key strategies used in Years 2-4:
These strategies are taught more simply and explicitly than in Years 5-6 and with shorter pieces of text (typically a paragraph or less in a lesson).


Reading a text aloud with developing readers:


1. Teachers will be explicit as to which reading skill is being taught that day/ week and how the learning contributes to this.


2. Teachers will start by looking in detail at the book cover/ page image:

  • This keys children into the text and starts to activate prior knowledge.


3. Model reading the text [I do]:

  • Slow and clear intonation.
  • Model decoding and understanding unfamiliar words (either through practice in different contexts or using basic etymology to understand the meaning).
  • Teacher will tell children why they are using emphasis/ intonation.
  • Think Aloud: Teacher models what they are thinking when they are reading a text and why they think this.
  • Echo reading: Teacher reads a sentence with correct fluency and intonation [I do] then the children read the sentence back in unison showing correct fluency and intonation [you do].


4. Line by line reading (when appropriate):

  • Teacher reveals and reads only a line at a time [I do].
  • Teacher discusses understanding each sentence before moving on to the next [Pre-planned open questioning].


5. Text Mark Up:

  • Teacher models annotating the text with words and symbols to highlight important ideas and themes.


6. Predicting, hypothesising and using evidence:

  • Teacher [I do…] models predicting what will happen next/ themes/ motives etc (based on available information).
  • Children practice [you do…] predicting what will happen next/ themes/ motives (based on available information).


7. Skimming and scanning:

  • Teacher to model skimming opening sections of each paragraph to get an over view of a page or a section [I do].
  • Teacher to identify sections of the text that they need to read more carefully in order to find specific information or answer a question [I do].
  • Children to practice skim reading in pairs to scan for key phrases, words and heading. Decide which sections of the text to read more carefully to find specific information or answer a question.


8. Developing and expressing understanding:

  • Teacher to discuss with children the themes, plots, events and characters in different stories they have read.
  • Children to express their ideas and give opinions about stories and poems, identifying specific words or phrases to support their ideas (In Year 4 children will begin to draw evidence from the text to support and justify their ideas and opinions).


9. Exploring key themes:

  • Simple, directed freeze-frame, timeline or sequencing activities which allow the children to develop a deeper understanding of key themes.


10. Modelling effective responses:

  • Teacher [I do…] will model using sentence stems which help to frame the children’s thinking.
  • Children [you do…] orally discuss in pairs and as a class their responses using the sentence stems.
  • Children use sentence stems to complete written responses.