Webinar: Ideas to help pupils become skilled and confident readers

This webinar offered practical advice and ideas for how primary and secondary schools can use assessment and classroom practice to improve pupils’ reading skills, including lessons learned from senior leaders in schools. Watch back for free now!
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Headteacher Update Webinar: Ideas to help pupils become skilled and confident readers.
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The Department for Education’s Reading Framework reminds us that a child who struggles with reading will struggle to fully access the curriculum or develop essential communication skills.

And we know from previous OECD research (2011) that reading for pleasure is the biggest indicator of a child's educational success, more so than their parent's socio-economic status.

However, research conducted by Renaissance and GL Assessment for their Turning the page report , published in April, revealed that 84% of teachers admit to sometimes feeling at a loss as to how to help struggling readers.

Teachers involved in the research also estimate that a third of their pupils are weak readers, with a quarter of these children regularly being taken out of lessons to improve their reading – missing an average of 2.5 hours of curriculum time a week (adding up to 16 days a year).

In light of these findings, this webinar brought together experienced primary and secondary educators as well as experts from the National Literacy Trust and Renaissance to offer practical “lessons learned” for how teachers and schools can close the reading gap.

Our expert panel discussed:

  • What are the key findings in the Turning the page report and their implications for primary and secondary schools?
  • What are the key principles of an effective reading strategy at primary and secondary level? What does a good school reading policy contain?
  • What are the signs to look out for that tell us a pupil is a weak or struggling reader – at both primary and secondary level?
  • How can we best assess pupils’ reading skills?
  • Once we know a pupil is struggling, what are the principles of effective intervention to teach reading skills from a whole-school perspective?
  • How can classroom teachers make a difference (ideas and approaches to develop reading skills)?
  • Quick ideas to encourage reading for pleasure.
  • Question & answer from the audience: We will leave time for questions at the end of the webinar


Our expert panel

Kay Tinsley is director of teaching and learning and English strategy lead at The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT). She has 25 years' experience in educational leadership, including headship. Prior to joining TKAT, Kay worked in a variety of contexts, many deprived, to secure rapid school improvement. She has a variety of roles in TKAT, including being the strategic lead for English and reading in secondary. She is also researching for her PhD in Education at Sussex University, focused on transformational approaches to teaching poetry. Kay is passionate about giving pupils the “superpower of reading”.

Maxine Low is executive headteacher at Brooklands Farm Primary School. Brooklands Farm has more than 1,200 pupils aged 3 to 11 on roll and is split across two sites in Milton Keynes. Brooklands Farm was graded outstanding by Ofsted after its most recent inspection and was praised in particular for its reading culture: “Reading is extremely important at Brooklands Farm. There is a palpable love of reading in all areas. Pupils relish taking books home to share and enjoy with their families.”

Gemma Buchanan is a trainer and literacy expert with Renaissance. Gemma is a secondary trained English teacher with 18 years’ experience in schools. She has worked as a head of department, director of English and literacy at a trust-wide and cross-phase level and also as an assistant headteacher. Prior to joining Renaissance in 2023, Gemma worked in one of the UK’s leading Research Schools as a programme lead on a School Centred Initial Teacher Training course for primary and secondary trainees.

Martin Galway is the head of school programmes at the National Literacy Trust. Martin is a Fellow of the English Association and previously worked as a teaching and learning advisor for the Herts for Learning Primary English Team, running its acclaimed primary English blog. Martin is a former primary school teacher and his particular interests include reading fluency instruction, grammar, literacy difficulties, and oracy. Martin is a regular speaker at national and international conferences on all aspects of English and literacy.


Our webinar partners

GL Assessment – part of Renaissance – is a leading provider of formative assessments to schools and school groups in the UK and in more than 100 countries worldwide. It provides assessments that help to reveal students’ potential, track their progress, and identify any barriers to learning they might have.

As a global leader in education technology, Renaissance is committed to providing schools and school groups with insights and resources to accelerate learning and help all students build a strong foundation for success.

Its assessments (which now include those from GL Assessment) offer the ideal starting point to help schools understand their students’ strengths, pinpoint areas of need, and put targeted measures in place. Meanwhile, its teaching and learning programmes and personalised practice solutions provide effective next steps to drive better student outcomes. Visit

GL Assessment/Renaissance products include:

  • New Group Reading Test: A standardised, adaptive, termly assessment to measure reading skills against the national average and identify where intervention may be needed.
  • myON: A cross-curricular teaching and learning tool which helps students acquire the essential skills to become fluent readers.
  • Star Reading: Allows teachers to identify learning gaps in reading, monitor progress and inform practice activities.
  • Accelerated Reader: A powerful tool for monitoring and managing independent reading practice, motivating students to read for pleasure.