School Leaders, Teachers

Teaching the foundations of literacy – The DfE Reading Framework

For all teachers and educators involved in the teaching of early reading, the Department for Education’s new Reading Framework provides some great guidance when it comes to meeting the expectations for teaching and provision. However, at 115 pages the policy document poses as quite an extensive bedtime read. In the following blog post, we have provided an easy to digest summary for all those interested to find out more.

Classroom Practice

  • Early teaching should incorporate both dimensions of The Simple View of Reading. Word reading and language comprehension, however, require different sorts of teaching.
  • Language should be developed through speaking and listening. Decoding should be taught through phonics.
  • Classrooms need to provide language-rich environments which develop talk for all children. This back and forth discussion needs to also support and reinforce the vocabulary, knowledge and language that children need for learning.
  • Children must be provided with opportunities to repeat and consolidate this vocabulary in different contexts.
  • Children need to be taught when to listen and how to listen well.
  • Paired discussions provide an opportunity for children to listen as well as expand and articulate their ideas.
  • Teachers do not have to collect and record evidence of children’s achievements for the Early Years Foundation Stage profile.
  • A ‘hands up’ approach to discussion can reduce the opportunity for learning and widen the language gap.
  • Calm, quiet classrooms are essential when for effective interaction and for children to make progress in reading and writing.
  • Children must practise their reading every day to develop their fluency.
  • Reciting poems and songs helps build children’s strong emotional connection to language and helps children memorise words and phrases.
  • Teachers should select a core set of poems for each year group.
  • Well-organised teaching spaces allow children to focus on what they are learning.
  • Highly decorated walls in primary schools can undermine children’s ability to concentrate and absorb teachers’ instructions.
  • A large carpet close to the teacher enables young children to sit easily during direct teaching.
  • Tables and chairs allow children to sit and write properly.
  • Letter cards, friezes and posters showing GPCs should match the phonic programme the school has chosen.


  • Teachers must set a dedicated storytime aside which gives children an opportunity to practise reading aloud.
  • Books need to engage all children.
  • Children need to see themselves reflected in literature. Books should also offer opportunities to learn from different perspectives and experiences.
  • Illustrations should engage and reflect all children’s backgrounds and cultures.
  • Teacher engagement is key for promoting a love of reading.
  • Repetition of stories helps encourage children to explore the language and emotions more deeply.
  • Reading aloud needs to be planned and rehearsed so correct emphasis can be placed in words, phrases and sentences that help children understand the story more.

Books, Book Corners and Materials

  • Books need to be chosen so they capture children’s imagination.
  • Book corners should be mini-libraries  that allow children to read and borrow books for home.
  • Books should be displayed attractively and so that they are easy to find. This should be refreshed regularly.
  • ‘Decodable books’ from the school’s phonics programme should be displayed separately.
  • Non-fiction and poetry books should also be available.

Decoding, Word Reading and Phonics

  • Teaching should follow a systematic synthetic phonics programme.
  • Teachers should understand the principles that underpin the teaching of word reading and be trained across the curriculum to understand the school’ chosen phonics programme and its terminology.
  • Reading and spelling should be taught alongside one another. They are ‘reversible processes’.
  • Close and regular assessment is vital for determining next steps, monitoring the impact of teaching and identifying difficulties early.
  • Children should not be asked to learn lists of high-frequency words. They should work through these and decode them in the usual way.
  • Phonics programmes need to teach letter names and sounds.
  • ‘Decodable books’ need to be carefully chosen to correspond to the school’s chosen programme and reflect the stages of learning to read.
  • Daily phonics sessions should begin as soon as children start their Reception year.
  • Phonics sessions might be only ten minutes long in the first few days. However, by the end of Reception children will need about an hour a day to consolidate previous learning, learn new content and practise and apply what they have learnt.
  • Phonics should be taught in a quiet space. Children need to have the best chance to hear clearly and pay attention.
  • High-quality class or group teaching is an efficient and effective way of ensuring good progress for the majority of children. One-to-one or small-group support is important for children who need extra help.
  • All the children should participate in high-quality phonics sessions by listening, responding, practising and applying what they are learning.
  • Dictation should be a vital part of a phonics session, helping children write independently.
  • Teachers should consider the advantages of delaying the teaching of joined handwriting, cursive or pre-cursive script whilst children are still developing.
  • Teachers should encourage correct spelling when children’s knowledge of the alphabetic code increases.
  • Children with special educational needs benefit from phonics-based programmes which integrate research-based approaches and techniques. The systematic synthetic approach to phonics rather than a whole-word approach provides children with moderate to severe and complex needs the best opportunity to gain functional literacy.

Headteachers and Leadership

  • Headteachers are responsible for building a reading culture and ensuring teaching is effective.
  • They need to plan the implementation of a rigorous, systematic programme that includes well-conceived and structured resources for teaching phonics in school.
  • They need to build a team of expert teachers who know and understand the processes that underpin learning to read, and draw on expert training, practice and coaching to achieve this.
  • They should make efforts to involve families in children’s reading development.
  • Leaders should set out strong, school-wide routines and make sure that all teachers reinforce these consistently to support children’s learning.
  • Headteachers should appoint a literacy lead to manage the teaching of phonics, reading and writing. That person should become an expert in the school’s chosen phonics programme.
  • All staff responsible for leading and teaching reading should take part in continued professional development for the school’s chosen phonics programme.
  • Phonics programmes should be implemented and utilised to reduce teacher workload and give back time to teaching.

At Lexplore Analytics, we are driven by a commitment to children’s literacy and a love of reading. Our assessment and programme of interventions are backed by extensive research and have been designed to support your reading teaching. Please do get in touch with our team to find out more.

We would also be very interested to hear your thoughts as an educational professional on this framework.  You can read the full report or download a fantastic infographic created by Assistant Headteacher Marc Hayes using the buttons below.

Get in touch The report The infographic

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