Case Studies

Reading Leaders help reading ages to soar at Longsands Academy

Reading Leader and partner working together at Longsands Academy

Reading Matters has trained a cohort of Reading Leaders every year at Longsands Academy since 2014. The programme works brilliantly in the school and the results are inspiring, with reading ages improving, in some cases, by 5 or 6 years!

Mark Seymour, the Assistant Head Teacher with a special responsibility for literacy and interventions, explains how the programme works at Longsands; “We select year 8 pupils who have been through other reading interventions during year 7 but still require additional support” he says. “Reading Leaders is then used as the sole literacy intervention undertaken by these children in year 8”.

The school selects volunteers from year 12 to be the Reading Leaders and pairs them with year 8 pupils who struggle with reading. Due to the school timetable, the reading sessions between the peer mentors and their partners take place once a week for around 45 minutes, from November through to Easter.

Mark is confident leaving the Reading Leaders to organise their mentoring sessions on their own, using their own initiative; “I just leave it to them, they do it all independently”. He believes that the success of the Reading Leaders scheme is due to the ease of communication between peers and the bond which develops through working in a partnership.

“There was one boy, Tom*, who was a very reluctant reader. I put a lot of thought into who might work with him, as I knew that it wouldn’t be easy, and chose Sam*. Sam was obviously a ‘cool’ and well-respected kid who understood the importance of reading. Tom’s reading age improved from 8 years and 8 months to 11 years and 2 months. When I told Sam the results, he had tears in his eyes! He had been the perfect role-model for Tom and was able to totally change Tom’s attitude to reading.  Tom even admits to loving reading now!”  *Names have been changed.

Find out how Reading Leaders could improve reading ages and confidence in your school.



15 years dedicated to improving young people’s life chances

corpus-christi-presentation-photoSteve Mort – Headteacher, Freda Pollard – Reading Mentor, Gillian Batcup – Reading Mentor, Nicky Busby – School Librarian

Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds has two of our longest serving Reading Mentors in their school. Each one of them has worked with over ninety children during 15 years as a Reading Mentor, bringing about a big chance is reading skills and attitudes and enabling children to do better in all subjects at school.

Steve Mort, the Headteacher said ” The work of the Reading Mentors is important and invaluable, it helps reading across the whole of the curriculum.”

Gillian Batcup, a Reading Mentor, explains in her own words; “At Corpus Christi I found out why Reading Matters really makes a difference. It goes without saying that the ability to read is essential for the 11-13 year olds I work with otherwise they cannot keep up with their schoolwork and get depressed as they see their friends progressing but also so that they don’t miss out on the stories which fascinate their friends. All the pupils who come to us have different personalities and interests, and the special advantage of Reading Matters is that we can see the children on a one to one basis and design our sessions to suit them. It gives me particular pleasure to see their confidence grow over time and how their faces light up with interest and enthusiasm when the right topic has been chosen. We have lots of fun during the sessions too and play Scrabble frequently. In addition, instruction, I have learnt, works both ways. Where else would I have learnt about skydiving, formula one or the rules of football?!

Nicola Busby, the Librarian at Corpus Christi and the Reading Matters coordinator in school, added, “I see the amazing results the reading mentors achieve and I see the children flourish well in their later school life, with all subjects not just reading.”

Click here to find out how our Reading Mentors can help raise reading ages in your school.

Inclusion team’s primary Reading Leader initiative brings great results

Reading Leaders and their reading partners at Pool Hayes Primary School

The Rushall Inclusion Advisory Service in Walsall invited Reading Matters to deliver Reading Leaders training to local primary schools, in an initiative to raise reading attainment, last July.  A total of 72 year four and five pupils from 12 different primaries took part in the training to equip them with the skills to become effective peer mentors and support younger pupils in school with reading.

Beccie Hawes, Head of Inclusion at Rushall, who had the idea of making the Reading Leaders training available to the schools in her area said, “The training was fabulous. It was fun, engaging, inspiring and helped the children to further develop their passion and commitment to reading”.

One of the schools that took part in the training was Pool Hayes Primary School. They selected 7 older pupils to take part in the training and support children in years 2 and 3 with their reading. The school also purchased a Reading Matters’ resource box, full of fun and engaging reading materials aimed at reluctant readers, which can be used to enhance one to one reading sessions.

Speaking about the impact on the younger children, the school coordinator, Louise Snape said, “All of them have benefited from their time with the Reading Leaders. These are children who probably don’t read at home, so having the opportunity to read with older pupils is crucial for developing their skills and confidence”.

“The Reading Leaders all absolutely love it too. They have gone way beyond what we expected of them, setting up a lunchtime reading club on their own and inventing games to play with their reading partners. They have become champions of reading in school”.

Danielle Cook, who coordinates the Reading Leaders at Rushall Primary, another school which took part in the training, agreed that the scheme was great for developing the confidence of children on both sides of the partnership.

“One little girl in particular has formed a really lovely bond with her Reading Leader and her reading has improved so much that she has been taken off the Read Write Ink programme. She’s asking to take books home and it’s like she has now got a purpose for reading. We will definitely be training more year 4 children again later this year so they are ready to start in the Autumn term”.

Commenting on the overall success of the training, Beccie concluded,“When I visit these schools I am constantly told about measurable positive impact in terms of reading accuracy, comprehension and fluency, and that is delightful to hear!”.

 Find out how primary Reading Leaders can help struggling and reluctant readers in your school.

INSET day prepares staff team to support the whole school with reading development


Chadwell St Mary’s primary school in Essex invited Reading Matters to deliver an INSET training day to 24 members of their staff team on the very first day of the Autumn term 2016. Their objective being to improve reading support across the whole school by ensuring that staff were equipped with  the right skills to help pupils one to one with reading. Members of the senior leadership team, class teachers and TAs all took part in the one day, level two CERTA accredited Supporting Reading Development course looking at strategies that help children who struggle with reading to become enthusiastic and confident readers. Reading Matters training shows how to get the best out of personal reading intervention which is proven to improve reading age by an average of 13 months in just 10 hours and often by much more.

Many of the staff who took part in the training said that it helped them to empathise with children who find reading difficult, which is key to tackling their problem. Other topics covered in the INSET day which were particularly popular were the section on questioning techniques, as this is part of the SATS curriculum, and the necessity of finding appealing resources as this is sometimes overlooked but makes a huge difference to reading enjoyment.

Feedback was very positive with 20 of the participants saying that they would make changes to the way that they supported children after taking part in the training. One teacher commented “I am looking forward to using the ideas discussed today in class. I will try to be more patient when reading with a child and to prompt them only when it is appropriate. I will also bear in mind that there is a lot of different reading resources out there, not just books, and some of these work really well as a way of enticing reluctant readers”.

Find out how our accredited courses and workshops for education staff can help improve reading attainment in your school.