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  • Francois Walker

Effective Teaching of Reading with Master Readers

We can all agree that reading is a fundamental skill that opens a world of opportunities for pupils. It is essential for academic success and lifelong learning. Effective teaching of reading after phonics can significantly impact reading proficiency - the skills and strategies needed to read - as well as pupil’s comprehension and ability to analyse texts effectively.

The Master Readers’ approach has been proven to build a whole-school, cross-curriculum reading culture; foster a love for reading; increase pupil engagement and confidence; develop vocabulary; and is inclusive – with the necessary support and interventions for pupils who find it difficult to read.

We have asked one of our Partner schools how their Master Readers journey began and how it has impacted their teaching of reading –

How did your Master Readers journey begin?

In 2018, we started our reading journey by adopting a phonics programme. This ensured that all our children were given the best possible start to learn to read. Having reaped the rewards of this within the first year, we were keen to find something that provided the same success and opportunities after phonics. We, like all schools, want all our children to excel within reading.

When the 2018 reading SATs results were released to us, we saw this was an area in which we needed to improve. The results were not reflective of our enthusiasm nor efforts in teaching children reading in KS2. From this we began exploring ways we could address this issue effectively. We knew the core values we wanted: systematic, consistent teaching, discussion focused and a varied diet of class texts. After trialing a few schemes and varied resources, we felt that we still did not have the consistency we were striving for - until we were introduced to Master Readers.

What has resonated with you most?

From the first excellent training session, we knew that this aligned with what we wanted for our children. A mastery approach to reading where all children have the potential and opportunity to reach the National Curriculum expectations.

The scheme ensured that there was high quality teaching with a focus on the development of vocabulary; discussion-based lessons where children share ideas and understanding; opportunities for the children to be read to and with each other; breaking down barriers to accessing the texts; and opportunities to gain the skills to show their understanding through answering questions both verbally and written.

The Master Readers approach enabled us to be inclusive, aspirational and ensured support and challenge for all children. Allowing them achieve in their reading.

How has Master Readers impacted on teachers and pupils?

Each teacher was able to observe lessons first-hand from a school that had already become well-established in their teaching approach. This enabled our teachers to instantly see the impact of this teaching process had on children: their ability to answer eloquently with evidence and develop their thinking and understanding by being prompted by the resources provided in the programme.

Within weeks we could see a difference within all our classrooms. The discussion between the children during the Book Club lessons was something that we hadn’t seen before within our school; those who were once viewed as our lower achievers were now flourishing within the lessons based upon the scaffolds and structure provided.

We could see a higher rate of engagement within our lessons, the development of understanding and ideas through discussion, and this was evidenced (in writing) in the children’s books.

After our first term of teaching through Master Readers, we were able to participate in a development day. This was a brilliant opportunity for us to discuss and explore our current successes and our next steps for improvement. Staff were confident going into this day and this was obvious in the level of teaching we were able to see during our learning walk. The children were enjoying the lessons based upon a whole class text and were engaged in high quality discussions.

How have you been able to challenge and support struggling readers?

The further training which looks at how to support our bottom 20% and assess our pupils has been invaluable. We are enjoying working more closely with other partner schools who implement Master Readers to support and develop our assessment and support of all children.

What Impact has Master Readers had on the school as a whole?

The Master Readers approach has allowed us to improve our reading spine, ensuring that the diet we are providing is broad, balanced and rich in variety. It has also made us look beyond our reading curriculum to ensure that we are enhancing our whole school curriculum including looking further into our handwriting, links to our writing curriculum and reading in the wider curriculum too. The principles of Master Readers does not remain in only that lesson - it is implemented further afield across the curriculum too.

Now having almost completed our first year with Master Readers, we can see the impact this systematic approach has had on our children – we hold the highest expecta­tions of our teaching, ensuring that all children are leaving our school with the ability to read and comprehend. We are excited to see how this supports our children throughout their whole learning journey and we are more than happy to share our experience with others, or have teachers come observe Master Readers in action.

Rivermead Primary School, Berkshire

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