Chiltern Teaching School Hub


Our Top Tips to embedding a reading rich culture. 

 1. Impact

Reading has a profound impact upon a pupil's academic and socio-ecmonomic success.

2. Responsibility

A focus on reading stems from Leadership and is everyone’s responsibility.


The best schools have a consistent phonics system in place, monitoring, evaluation and intervention programme.

4. Progression

Reading continues at Secondary schools from KS3 to 4.

5. Data

Reading data, strategies and interventions are shared across schools. 

Want to find out more? 

Check out our previous blog on EALwhere we consider reading fluency and understanding. 

Interested in the research? 

The Reading Framework (2022) DfE 

Now the Whole-School is reading (Ofsted:2022  

Prefer to watch? 

Reading Aloud with David Didau



Reading for Pleasure



Teaching Whole-Class Reading


Visit our YouTube page for more incredible CPD videos.  


Teacher Talk: Reading

Welcome to our educational blog. Here we explore all things pertinent to education, discuss current topics and provide tips, from research and educational experts, to aid practice.

Simply put, reading has the ability to create, elevate and is fundamental to student academic and future success - What’s more, research, both past and current, shows this to be the case. 

Taken from the DfE (2022) paper entitled: The Reading Framework, they noted that: A child that reads daily is exposed to '296,660 words' by the age of five, compared to the average of ‘4,662 words’ from someone who was never read to (Science Daily, 2019). Reading and Reading for pleasure has the ability to reduce the socio-economic gap and OECD's (2021) data showed that those who read consistently had literacy scores significantly above international average, irrespective of a family's occupational status. Reading in schools has a prolific role in reducing the gap caused by socio-economic status.

This is further highlighted in the recent article: ‘Now the whole-school is reading’ (Gov: 2022), where shockingly, they found that: 

  • Only 10% of disadvantaged children who leave primary school with their reading below the expected standard get passes in English and mathematics at GCSE.
  • 57% of adult prisoners taking initial assessments had literacy levels below those expected of an 11-year-old.
  • A quarter of young offenders in the UK have a reading age below that of the average 7-year-old.'

Once again, showing that the ability to read and be literate is therefore crucial not just to individuals, but also society.

So whose responsibility is it with education and schools?

The answer: Within the best schools, where students make the most reading progress: Everyones! But it is ultimately led by Senior Leadership to all staff. A reading rich school undeniably has an ethos that floods their corridors, assemblies, tutor times and talk. 

The correlation between reading and spoken language is undeniable and whilst we will cover some aspects here, a later edition of TeacherTalk will look at Oracy in more detail. 

What research tells us (DfE:2020 and GOV:2022) about schools that have an effective reading programme, is the following:

At a Primary level-

  •  All teachers must understand the principle teaching of word reading (decoding) and spelling (encoding). 
  • Phonics should be systematically taught from Reception, on a daily basis.  
  • Teaching of phonics includes: direct teaching, handwriting, written comprehension, organised de-codable books and texts.
  • Assessment (formative and summative) is crucial to ensure reading closely matches a students ability and develops as they progress. 
  • Assessment will also enable teachers to put in place effective intervention for gaps in knowledge.
  • Where a student is identified as having gaps, they must be given regular, scheduled and purposeful support to catch-up. This could be one-to-one or in small groups.

What about at a Secondary level?

Crucially, the strategies above must continue with older students. Most research has noted how Secondary schools and teachers often have little experience of, and training in, how to support struggling readers in their subject area. Equally, where intervention is put in place, this is often at KS3 and does not continue into KS4. 

Where reading is effective:

  •  There is a whole-school understanding of phonics (at secondary school).
  • Schools use the expertise of primary school teachers to train their staff (consistency and shared expertise). 
  • Reading ages and fluency, although helpful, must be considered with reading comprehension (see our previous blog on EAL and fluency). 
  • Diagnostic assessments of reading are used to  identify specific areas of  strength and weakness
  • Targeted intervention is then put in place to address these gaps. 
  • Progress is monitored and continues from KS3 to KS4. 
  • Reading Data is shared across the school so all staff were aware, particularly when taking into account GCSE texts and resource complexity.
  • Curriculum subject leaders focus on reading / vocabulary in their departmental development plans.
  • Subject specific vocabulary is displayed around school.
  • When older, it is still vital that pupils read aloud, are read to and read collaboratively within English lessons, other subjects and as school on the whole.

How can a school become a reading rich environment?  

We spoke to Nicola Quick, CLT’s English Curriculum and Reading Lead and asked her what schools can do to become a reading rich environment. Here she shared her wealth of experience and knowlede: 

Reading should be an immersive experience for all learners that is intrinsic throughout the curriculum, visibly demonstrated around school and heard being discussed in corridors. It is famously said that culture eats strategy for breakfast and if schools are able to create an effective and purposeful culture of reading, there will be an automatically generated positive trajectory of reading engagement and progress from learners leading to a rich reading environment. 

Where schools have a reading rich environment, they have:

  • Dedicated time to whole staff CPD so that all staff are aware of the importance that reading can have on pupils’ progress, attainment and overall well-being. 
  • Mapped out time within the whole school curriculum which is dedicated to purposeful reading
  • Adults regularly modelling reading to students 
  • Carefully considered text choice within curriculum areas to support and enhance learning
  • Ensure that students have easy and regular access to reading materials and resources
  • Promote reading both explicitly and implicitly
  • Displays around school which promote a love of reading and its importance
  • An active and purposeful library which showcases student leadership and independence

CSTH - ‘Together towards excellence, ambition and inspiration’