Don’t interrupt reading with questions, says Ofsted

Early years conference told that 'children need to understand the purpose of the story'

The class book review: festive reads

Teachers reading to children should not interrupt the story to ask them questions, a senior Ofsted official has said.

Gill Jones, the inspectorate’s deputy director of early education, told an early years conference that for a long time, teachers were taught to regularly stop reading in order to quiz pupils about the story.

However, she warned that this was “absolutely not” a good way to read to children.

Speaking at the event organised by the NAHT headteachers' union and held in London earlier this month, Ms Jones said she typically asks teachers about how they like to read books to their pupils.

She said: “Somewhere along the line, when I asked them that question, they thought I wanted them to say ‘we ask them lots of questions so we read a bit of the text, and we stop and we ask them questions, and then we ask them another question’.

“Now, as an adult, I would hate that. I can’t stand it. I want to get to the end of the story. I might go back and re-read.”

She said that for a long period, trainee teachers had been told “that’s how you do it, that was what was good”, but she told the audience that this was “absolutely not” the case.

“Children need to understand the purpose of the story,” she added.

“They need to get the excitement from reading. They need to be read to by brilliant, absolutely fabulous readers that are going to teach those children that aren’t read to at home, that don’t know about reading, why it’s important to learn to read, and what pleasure reading can bring.”

She told the conference that it was “really important” for reading to be at the heart of the Reception curriculum because “you can teach phonics as long as you like, and as much as you like, but if children don’t understand the purpose of reading, why are they going to want to do it in this day and age?

“They’re not, are they, because it’s difficult. We are not born as readers.”

She added that it was important to read from books, rather than use “these wonderful interactive screens where children can go and smash on it”, because “it engages their brain more, and they learn more and they remember more”.

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