Children are 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).

The Reading Vipers can be used by both KS1 and KS2 with a little adaption. The main difference being in the S.

Sequence – KS1

Summarise – KS2

In KS1, β€˜Explain’; is not one of the content domains, rather it asks children why they have come to a certain conclusion, to explain their preferences, thoughts and opinions about a text.

In KS2, the Explain section covers the additional content domains of 2F, 2G and 2H which are not present in KS1.

What are Vipers?

VIPERS is an anagram 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:


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.

Key Stage 1

In Key Stage One children reading skills are taught and practised using the VIPERS during whole class reading sessions.

KS1 Content Domain ReferenceVIPER
1a draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand textsVocabulary
1b identify/ explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction, such as characters, events, titles and information.Retrieve
1c identify and explain the sequences of events in textsSequence
1d make inferences from the textInfer
1e predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so farPredict

Key Stage 2

In Key Stage Two children reading skills are taught and practised using VIPERS during whole class reading sessions.

KS2 Content Domain ReferenceVIPER
2a Give/explain the meaning of words in contextVocabulary
2b retrieve and record information/ identify key details from fiction and non/fictionRetrieve
2c summarise main ideas from more than one paragraphSummarise
2d make inferences from the text/ explain and justify inferences with evidence from the textInfer
2e predict what might happen from details stated or impliedPredict
2f identify/explain how information/ narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a wholeExplain
2g identify/explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrasesExplain
2h make comparisons within a textExplain

If you have further questions about VIPERS reading contact:

Assistant Head of Primary – Mrs Crombie

Whole School Head of English – Mrs Simpson