Reading and the National Curriculum

How is Reading Measured in the National Curriculum?

by | Jan 21, 2019 | EAL, Literacy, SEND

Want to know more about exactly what your child is being taught, or not sure exactly what is expected of you? Read our breakdown of everything you need to know about reading in the National Curriculum.

How is reading measured in the National Curriculum?

Our passion for technology and education over here at the Bookshop is no secret. We love gadgets, handheld devices, apps, online programmes, virtual classrooms and just about anything that encourages educational progress!

But we do understand that these methods are not representative of a complete education.

Learning is a wonderful thing but it can be tough, particularly when it comes to reading.

The National Curriculum

Many parents would like more information on their children’s schooling. We often desire insight into how well our child is getting on at school. What are they learning? The curriculum is daunting, isn’t it? 

In 1988 the National Curriculum was born. Its aim was to standardise content taught across schools. This meant that all children experienced the same educational approaches, topics and teaching methods. All across the nation, this standard is present today. 


The discipline of English is a core subject with a wider reach than you may first expect. English teaches a pupil to communicate, listen and express their emotions through words, and reading is a key element here.

‘Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.’

But this is no easy feat!

Children are always being assessed at school. It’s endless! What are educators looking for? What should our children have achieved by the end of year 6? Here’s some examples for English:

A child should be able to read easily, fluently and with good understanding

• They should develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information

• They should acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language

• They should be able to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences

(More info can be found at

There’s quite a lot to learn, right?

Children’s literacy skills are assessed in two ways:

1• Phonic/word recognition

2• Comprehension

Both of these aspects can present different challenges for the student, and different methods of teaching are often used.

Word reading

When a young child is first taught to read, they learn ways of working out each word. This is primarily taught through a process of ‘sounding out’. This means focusing on the phonics that the word consists of, linking them together to build the whole word.

To achieve this many teachers use ‘phonic systems’ that incorporate rhyme, action and pictures to help encourage letter recognition. The letter ‘a’ for example, is taught as the sound ‘ahh’. A child will learn to say ‘ahh’ when they see ‘a’,  and will subsequently build upon this with further phonics until they have formed a whole word.

Competently learning phonics will entrust a child with the ability to ‘decode’ a word that is unfamiliar to them


Being able to sound out words is all well and good, but about understanding them? This requires knowledge of the world around them and how this can be presented in linguistic form. This may include, for example, understanding why a character might be acting in a particular way, or how they might be feeling about a particular situation.

Comprehension skills can be developed with discussions with parents and teachers. This subsequently develop into higher level skills, such as critical thinking and analysis (both key factors for higher level education!)

Remember, these are just the building blocks for successful reading but they are crucial!

One cannot build a city if the foundations are not secure!

Let us know your thoughts!