: What do we mean by ​‘reading’ and what is the goal of teaching it? Reading comprehension is not a skill to be taught but a ​‘condition to be created’


What do we mean by ​‘reading’ and what is the goal of teaching it?

Reading comprehension is not a skill to be taught but a ​‘condition to be created’

by Hampshire Research School at Front Lawn Primary
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Reading is an active process of constructing meaning from texts.

The complexity of the teaching of reading can feel overwhelming. However, useful models such as the​‘Reading Comprehension House’ can help us better understand why. Adapted from Hogan, Bridges, Justice and Cain’s 2011 publication, the reading house creates clarity to support our understanding of the different aspects we need to consider in our teaching.

The EEF’s recently updated​‘Improving Literacy in KS2’ guidance report states that the ‘… goal of teaching reading is to enable children to comprehend written texts. To do this, pupils need to build both word reading and language comprehension skills. These component parts build on one another and connect together as children learn to read.’

Reading house EEF

The purpose of a reading comprehension lesson should be to make it more likely that a child will understand the next book they read independently. Therefore we need to stay focused on what will transfer from the lesson to the next book they read. Reading comprehension is not a skill to be taught but a condition to be created.’

Background knowledge is the main driver of language comprehension. Increase the background knowledge and you increase the chances of comprehension.

What have we learnt from the evidence?

Building background knowledge and exposing pupils to key vocabulary is crucial in allowing pupils to understand texts they are faced with.

In the time it takes a child to answer 10 comprehension questions with variable success, we can tell them 30 useful things about the book and get them to stick. If any of these 30 things are encountered again in another book, which they will be (that’s how books work), the conditions needed for comprehension will be improved.


At Front Lawn Primary, we identify the prior knowledge the children will need in order to understand the texts they read and we explicitly share this with them. The faster we can fill the knowledge tank and create or expand mental models, the more books will become accessible. We want them to be experts on every text we read so that they can make theories, make connections and understand them on a deeper level.


If you would like to see this in action across the school, see our events page for upcoming training opportunities or contact us for more information.

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1 Day Training - 23rd May 2024 9:30am - 2:00pmin-person

Developing Primary Reading Comprehension

Engage with EEF guidance report on Reading Comprehension and discover actionable approaches for your Reading Curriculum
Tickets from: £60
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