What strategies can we implement to accelerate the progress of low attaining children in comprehension/understanding skills?


We have decided to focus on accelerating the progress of low attaining children in their understanding and comprehension skills in reading. Our basis for this, is we have identified that the gap between the highest attaining and the lowest attaining pupils is not closing at sufficient rate. This is evidenced by analysis of  teacher assessments, rising starts and PIRA test results.

As a result of this, we have carried out the following actions:


  • Baseline test – We analysed our previous Rising Starts reading and comprehension results and will use this to compare our progress over the length of our inquiry.
  • We created a survey for the children in Year 4 and 5,  to question them on their views about reading and how to improve their motivation. This will allow us to gain insight to the attitude and views of our children.
  • We looked at a variety of current research to evaluate what we already do and what we can do to improve. We compared and contrasted our current methods with those that are stated in several research articles.
  • We looked at a variety of interesting and current books to engage learners. We also looked at topic specific books and subject specific books to raise the interest of young readers.
  • Across year 4 and 5, we have ‘refreshed’ our reading corners and changed over books from the library.


Within our readings and research time, we found the following findings to be of particular relevance;

  • “Over the last 20 years, a strategy that has gained increasing popularity is to supplement conventional teaching with collaborative, peer mediated instruction, whereby children work together to support each other’s reading development. That way, teachers can conduct many simultaneous lessons and address a broader range of students’ educational needs.”
  • “Reading competence improves when they work with each other in a cooperative and structured manner.” (Group strategies include = oral reading pairs, decoding, story structure predication, story summaries)
  •  “Students read a passage to material, paragraph by paragraph. While reading, they learn and practice how to generate questions, summarized, clarify word meanings and predict subsequent paragraphs. CT models these strategies, then students practice strategies on the next section of the text. CT able to provide feedback through modelling, coaching, hints and explanations. CT invite children to react to peers statements by elaborating or commenting. CT gradually shift responsibility to students.” We are reluctant to try this strategy in schools due to feasibility/usability/challenging.
  • STRATEGY COMPREHENSION AND UNDERSTANDING: Pair work = one reads for 5 mins aloud. Partner corrects mistakes. Then asks the 5 W’s for 5 minutes- then switch.
  • “The goal of repeated reading is to help readers transition to ‘automatic-activation’ to free up capacity for higher level comprehension processing of the text.” Repeated reading has increased words read correctly per minute, decreased word recognition errors, and improved comprehension.”
  • “Paragraph summarization requires readers to monitor comprehension and make conscious judgment in the selection and reduction of textual information.

    Reading Comprehension Strategies: Theories, Interventions, and Technologies- Edited by Danielle S. McNamara

  • “Students should have active intervention to open up reading choices, increase reader’s enjoyment, and offer opportunities for people to share their reading experiences.” Roger A. Johnson
  • Self-efficacy and self-regulation was a huge part of pupil’s improvement. Antoniou.F and Souvignier.E

Next Steps:

Use the research to propel further research into the use of strategies and best practice of comprehension and understanding. We are going to go bananas with the Survey Monkey Survey that will be given to the pupils of Montpelier Primary School in Year 4 and 5.