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Maple Grove Primary School

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English - Guided reading

At Maple Grove Primary School, we use VIPERS as a whole class approach to teach reading skills from Y1 upwards, which equips pupils with the necessary skills to be successful readers. It focuses on building fluency and embedding comprehension skills with direct, taught sessions. Children are explicitly taught the skills of reading (outlined in the National Curriculum and the KS1 and KS2 test domains) through the use of VIPERS, which were created by Rob Smith (The Literacy Shed). 

What are Vipers?

VIPERS is an acronym to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the UK’s reading curriculum.  They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts.

VIPERS stands for






Sequence (KS1) or Summarise (KS2)

The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc.  As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions.  They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these which allows for targeted questioning afterwards. More information about the domains here.

Through Year 2 (once children's phonic skills are secure) and into Key Stage 2 they will access a range of key texts which have been selected to provide appropriate challenge as well as a range of topics and world views.

Texts accessed in guided reading are planned as per the progression document below.

Each child will have a daily taught reading session to develop their skills.  Some are focused on whole-class reading and discussion, others will be in smaller groups.

Across a two-week period, pupils will spend time focusing on each of the 6 VIPERS reading domains.

A initial planning format for this would be:

  • Teachers' planning is supported using Literacy Shed Plus resources, which also follow the VIPERS domain focus.
  • The children reading skills are taught and practised using the VIPERS during whole class reading sessions and small group little Wandle guided reading ( KS1).

VIPERS Lesson Structure

As stated previously VIPER whole class reading sessions take place 4 x a week for 30 minutes these are separate to but may complement literacy sessions.

Sessions may vary session to session/ class to class depending on the needs of the children but has a general rule time spent on each VIPER is based upon the English Reading Test Framework (2016) number of marks available for each content domain.

Whole Class Reading Lesson Structure

During a typical session the teacher will share what the content domain/s the children will be focusing on for that session.

During a typical session the teacher will…
•    Share what the content domain/s the children will be focusing on for that session- which of the VIPERS type will be used?
•    Carefully select up to 4 key vocabulary words they want the children to learn that week. These will be taught, over learnt and embedded throughout the rest of the week during VIPERS sessions and across the wider school day to allow for children to use these words in different contexts. Where appropriate they are applied during their Writing sessions.
•    During these sessions, teachers cover fiction (class novel/text) during week one, non-fiction (books about topic) in week two, poetry, songs, picture books, short films (about the current topic/theme day) in week three and then this repeats to ensure children get access to a wide range of texts. 
•    Types of text given are appropriate to the age and key stage of the children. These are always challenging texts!

The table below details how a sequence of VIPERS lesson could look throughout the half term. As it shows, we look at a range of text types, including: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, songs, picture books and short films. 

The links below will outline how VIPERS will cover the skills each year group will develop and how they link to the National Curriculum statements, as well as the types of questions you, as parents, can ask the children.  

Year 1        Year 2          Year 3         Year 4       Year 5       Year 6 

Recording and Assessment during VIPERS sessions

We encourage children to orally talk through their answers and ensure it is the best they can give before writing anything down. We also acknowledge it is good for children to also be able to formally record an answer. Children can do this in a variety of different ways such as discussing the answer first with peers and/or an adult and then writing their best answer, working individually and then editing their answer accordingly after discussion or orally discussing 1 or 2 of the questions and writing down the others working individually.

During this reading session teachers focus on specific children during the session, this may mean hearing them read individually whilst others are reading independently, in pairs or groups, discussing answers with those children and working one to one or within a group with them during a session whilst the others form an answer independently. Teachers can then assess these children based on NC expectations and how they are performing relating to the specific content domain.