reading to learn: comprehension

Much of the information needed to understand a text is not provided  by the information expressed in the text itself but must be drawn from the language user’s  knowledge of the persons, objects, states of affairs, or events the discourse is about.” T. A. van Dijk & W. Kintsch, Strategies of Discourse Comprehension (1983)

Understanding the written word is founded on the shared knowledge between the writer and the reader. The writer assumes that the reader shares a body of knowledge that is implicit in the writing and, should the reader not possess that knowledge, they will fail to understand. As Daniel Willingham succinctly puts it, “Knowledge must precede skill” (Why Don’t Students Like School?, 2009). And as E.D. Hirsch, Jr. says, “For children to make substantial progress in reading, they must make early and substantial progress in knowledge.” (The Knowledge Defecit, 2006).

Reading To Learn is based upon the understanding that to comprehend written language is to have a broad knowledge base, and that one of the main aims of reading comprehension should be to build children’s cultural knowledge so that in turn they become better comprehenders.

The engaging training, which blends the latest theory and research of how children understand the written language and practical approaches to teaching comprehension, covers:

  • the importance of building knowledge early and thoroughly
  • building an effective reading spine that systematically develops children’s knowledge with a strong emphasis on non-fiction and fiction that develops children’s cultural knowledge
  • the importance of of improving understanding through vocabulary and language development, and reading aloud to children
  • the role of knowledge in forming inferences and situation models when reading


The training will help staff to design effective sequences of reading sessions, founded on several core principles:

  • reading helps us to learn about the world
  • we should be reading texts that are rich and complex, and that reward close analysis (the Very Hungry Caterpillar might be rich and complex text at Year 1)
  • Repeated readings help readers to firstly the gist and understand vocabulary, and then to find subtle and hidden meanings
  • Text-dependent questioning encourages children to hunt for information to find evidence, build knowledge and deepen understanding
  • Making notes and annotations helps capture ideas and secure understanding
  • Whole class teaching – no need to find something productive for the rest of the class while reading with a group


Reading to learn is a bold approach, founded on sound educational research, that reimagines that nature of reading comprehension in the primary classroom.

The Reading to Learn training can be delivered as a half- or full-day INSET or delivered a short sequence of staff meetings.


learning to read: letters & sounds revised

Learning to Read: Letters & Sounds Revised updates Letters & Sounds for the new curriculum. Streamlining the content to better aid progression and ensuring that phonics meets the new standards outlined in the new Key Stage 1 English curriculum, this revised version of Letters & Sounds builds upon and improves the original.

Coming complete with a simple progression document that outlines the new progression from Phase 1 to Phase 6, Letters & Sounds training is either a full day or half day INSET or a sequence of staff meetings, depending upon the content to be delivered and can include:

  • improving phonics subject knowledge
  • developing phonemic awareness
  • overcoming barriers and common misconceptions
  • delivering the phonics teaching sequence successfully
  • an overview of the Letters & Sounds Revised curriculum
  • assessing and tracking pupil progress


hooked on books

Hooked on Books  is a half-day INSET orsequence of two staff meetings designed to help you get your children hooked on books. This training is packed full of tips and strategies for getting children reading such as hot reads, the magic bookcase and book talks, and ideas for developing the reading environment to support reading. You also get to explore Jason’s vast array of children’s literature and find those books that will encourage your children’s love of reading. The training includes:

  • tips and ideas for encouraging children to read such as hot reads , the magic bookcase and book talks
  • developing the school and classroom reading environment to support a love of reading
  • exploring the best of contemporary children’s fiction and non-fiction