Preparing for the Ofsted Reading Deep Dive

The New Ofsted Education Inspection Framework now includes a “deep dive” in reading, and this will form part of every inspection for infant and primary schools. At Pandora, we have been receiving lots of calls from teachers, wanting more detailed information on the books we supply, and how they support the teaching of reading in schools.

We’ve gathered together information from a number of sources including government documentation, research into frequently asked questions during inspections, and as much information as we could glean from the leading educational publishers whose reading schemes we stock. This should help teachers to prepare for the deep dive, ensuring that you have all the information you need on how your existing resources meet the new criteria, and allowing you to identify any gaps.

This deep dive includes a number of elements:

  • Evaluation of senior leaders’ intent for the reading curriculum and their understanding of its implementation and impact
  • Evaluation of curriculum leader’s long and medium term planning and thinking
  • Discussion with teachers to understand how their choices are informed by the curriculum
  • Lesson observations (4 to 6 lessons)
  • Discussions with a group of pupils who were in the lessons observed
  • Scrutiny of books and pupils work (they'll look at 6 pieces of work per year group, for at least 2 year groups)

The EIF states that inspectors will make a judgement on the quality of education by exploring three areas: Intent, Implementation and Impact (the 3 I’s).

Inspectors will consider whether ’a rigorous approach to the teaching of reading develops learners’ confidence and enjoyment in reading. At the early stages of learning to read, reading materials are closely matched to learners’ phonics knowledge.’

This is the area in which we, as educational book suppliers are receiving the most queries, as this is a more stringent approach than previously seen. We have therefore gathered together information from the major educational publishers detailing which sounds are covered by which books, so that the books children are taking home can be closely matched to the sounds they have learnt in class.

Which sounds are included in which Phonic Books?

Click on the links below for information from individual publishers schemes:

 Bug Club Phonics (Pearson Education) Big Cat Letters and Sounds (Collins)  Rocket Phonics (Rising Stars)  Dandelion Readers (Phonic Books)  Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters (Oxford)
Bug Club Phonics  Big Cat for Letters and Sounds  Rocket Phonics  Dandelion Readers  Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters


What Questions are asked by Ofsted during a Reading Deep Dive?

Below is a list of questions OFSTED may ask your literacy or reading lead, as well as pupils and class teachers. This list has been formulated based on what other teachers have reported from their inspections under the new framework and on our knowledge of the subject area. Many answers will be specific to your school and your teaching practice but this is intended to give you a heads up in your preparations.

General questions for subject leaders:

  • What is your action plan for developing reading this year? What are you trying to improve upon?
  • How does reading fit with the wider curriculum?
  • What whole school reading policies do you have? Is sending reading books home a whole school policy?
  • How do you make sure early reading is prioritised?
  • How often do teachers read to children?
  • How do you make sure storytime is engaging? How do you support teachers in doing this?
  • How do you make sure children have a love for reading? In class and at home?
  • What do you do to engage children in reading?
  • How do you select the books that children read?
  • How do you decide upon the texts that children get to know very well?
  • How do you improve children's reading fluency?
  • How are the lowest 20% supported with reading?

Questions about Reading at Home:

  • What books do children take home? Do they pick or do you pick? If you pick, how do you choose them?
  • How often do children change these books?
  • Do parents get involved with children reading these books at home? How do you know?
  • How do you help parents to foster a love of reading at home?
  • If parents can't read themselves, how are you supporting them to help their child read at home?


Key Stage 2 Reading Questions:

  • How do you ensure children are fluent and accurate readers past year 2?
  • With older children, how do you know they are reading at home?
  • Are your KS2 teachers phonics trained? How are they supported to use phonics in their teaching?
  • How is reading taught in key stage 2?


Questions around phonics:

  • Phonics check — if your results are good, how are you achieving that? If they need improvement, what do you plan on doing to make results better?
  • How do you ensure children's books help children to practise the sounds they have learnt?
  • How do you ensure children know the digraphs, letter sounds etc? To blend sounds into words? To read exception words?
  • What images and movements do you use to convey the sounds, digraphs etc?
  • What is your termly plan for what you want children to know with phonics leading up to the screening check?
  • How much time do children spend learning phonics?
  • When do you start teaching letter-sound correspondence? Why then?
  • How many sounds will your children know by the end of the term? Do you have an outline/plan for this?
  • Think about where we are in the year now — Where are the children up to? Which children are not at this point? Why?
  • What are you doing to remedy this? Can you show me what they know? (read with children here potentially).
  • How do you know which children are not on track? How do you assess? How regularly?
  • How quickly do you spot children who are struggling?
  • What support is in place for these children to catch up?
  • How do you ensure children build strong phonological skills?

Questions for Pupils:

  • What is your favourite book you've read at school this year?
  • What books have you taken home? How often do you take them home?
  • Does your teacher read aloud to you? When? How much?
  • Do your parents read with you? Do your parents know you have reading books that you take home?
  • Do you enjoy storytime?
  • Do you read in other subjects?


Helpful Links:

Documents to help schools choose a phonics teaching programme from

Publishers Self-Assessment forms for Phonics Teaching Materials — Assuring high quality phonic work

Collins’ Developing a Reading Policy in 3 Steps

Resources From Pandora Books:

Tips on Choosing a Reading Scheme Our Guide to Book Bands THE VALUE OF A GREAT NON-FICTION LIBRARY




Phonics Based Reading Schemes

 Bug Club Phonics Big Cat for Letters and Sounds  Floppy's Phonics  Floppy's Phonics  Mixed Phonics Boxes
 Bug Club Phonics Collins Big Cat for Letters and Sounds  Floppy’s Phonics Fiction  Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters  Mixed Phonics

 Coming Soon...
Read Write Inc

Dandelion Readers (KS2 Catch up Phonics)

 Browse all Reading Schemes by Publisher

Books for Reading for Pleasure

Accelerated Reader  Book Band Collections  Primary Reading Books  Primary Topic Books

Accelerated Reader™ Collections

For schools using the AR programme to monitor and promote reading

Book Band Collections 

For schools using a book band system to encourage children to read widely and access books at an appropriate level of challenge

Primary Reading Books 

Perfectly pitched collections of books for school libraries, book bags and classrooms

Primary Topic Books 

Thoroughly researched non-fiction ideal for topic research and non-fiction reading