How we teach reading fluency

How we teach reading fluency



Accuracy & Automaticity

There are three main parts to reading fluently. These are accuracy, automaticity and prosody.

We read fluently to understand what we are reading.



Children’s accuracy in phonics is measured through their recognition of phoneme-grapheme correspondences and their use of blending to read words containing known GPCs.


Continuous assessment of children’s GPC knowledge – both formative and summative – is used to determine children’s reading accuracy at this stage.


Assessment guidance from Unlocking Letters and Sounds and Essential Letters and Sounds outlines the number of GPCs and words children should recognise and read at each formal assessment point.


Children’s automaticity is measured through their recognition of Common Exception Words (Unlocking Letters and Sounds) or Harder to Read and Spell Words (Essential Letters and Sounds).

Once children have acquired the GPCs taught as part of the schools’ chosen SSPs, and are able to blend these sounds to read words fluently, they move on to Book Band levels.  They also need to be able to automatically read CEW/HRS words within each SSP.


Fluency Lessons

As the children become more confident in decoding using their phonics knowledge, they begin to practice fluency via daily structured fluency lessons.


Fluency Reading Lessons:


Element                                                                      Teacher activity          Children's actions

Teacher to mark-up text using / to donate pauses (phrasing), circle words to show emphasis and underline any words that need to be implicitly taught to the children. Teacher to write questions to derive understanding from the text based around school’s reading progression and WALTs. PROSODY

Teacher to use text from reading book sequence.


First Read

Teacher model text with fluency (accuracy, automaticity, prosody) stopping at any words that have been underlined to quickly explain them through pictures, a pre-determined definition, actions or a synonym. PROSODY

Read with fluency briefly stopping to implicitly teach pre-determined vocabulary.

Children to follow with ‘reading’ finger, ruler or line guide.

Second Read

Teacher model text with fluency (accuracy, automaticity, prosody) PROSODY


Read with fluency

Children to follow with ‘reading’ finger, ruler or line guide.

Third Read

Echo reading. Teacher to read chunks of text with fluency and children to echo read back. PROSODY

Read pre-determined chunk and using ‘my turn your turn’ for children to echo back.

Children to echo back teacher’s reading with fluency.

Children to sit with reading partner and read the text in pairs. Child 1 will start while child 2 read the passage with fluency. They will then swop. (3 times) AUTOMATICITY

Teacher to visit pairs to check fluent reading and note down any words that the children are finding difficult to read.


Child 1 to read fluently and underline any words they find tricky. Child 2 to give appropriate feedback and support Child 1 in sounding out words.

Teacher to give whole class feedback on reoccurring words children struggled to sound out or were unsure of the meaning. ACCURACY

Teacher to identify words sound out/chunk using my turn your turn or implicitly teach the meaning.

Children to echo sounding out/ chunking of words.

Children to perform test

Teacher to guide.

All children could perform or specifically chosen groups/children. Other children to follow along with ‘reading’ finger, ruler or line guide.

Teacher lead in whole class discussion to answer the predetermined questions. Strategies of whiteboards/talk partners etc. to be used.

Teacher to guided discussion.

Children to discuss questions with peers and build on other ideas.


As children move up through the school, they further develop their reading fluency via 'Close Reading' and 'Extended Reading' lessons.


Book Bands

Children’s accuracy and automaticity with book-banded books is measured using Benchmarking.  This assessment tool asks children to read 100 words, with the expectation of 95% accuracy and an automaticity speed measured in words per minute.   


A child reads a fiction or non-fiction text to themselves at the level above their current reading band, before reading it aloud to an adult.  Adults mark on the text where children have been accurate or made an error.  These errors are counted at the end to give a percentage of accuracy.  The reading is timed and a reading speed to show a child’s automaticity is calculated using the formula of 100 ÷ seconds taken x 60.


Children who cannot read with 95% accuracy, or at an appropriate automaticity speed, remain on their current book band level. Quality first teaching is then adjusted or an appropriate intervention is selected; these can be found in the ‘Intervention’ section. 




Children’s prosody is measured through the Fluency Rubric.  There are four areas to assess and four levels within each area.  These are expression and volume, phrasing, smoothness, and pace.  As a child reads aloud, an adult identifies which level, from 1 – 4, they are working at for each of the four areas.  These are added together to give a score out of 16. 


Children need to score an appropriate total in relation to age-related expectations.  If this total is not achieved, quality first teaching is adjusted or an appropriate intervention is selected; these can be found in the ‘Intervention’ section.