Mastery of reading is not just for the 'able' few: Why harmonious practice matters

Bright I's has had a very successful start since its establishing in August 2019. But like all teachers, I have taken the time to reflect on what works and what doesn't in order to reshape and evolve into more than a consultancy focused on raising attainment in reading to one which offers quality CPD in the teaching of reading particularly for Upper KS2. The focus of Bright I's continues to be on raising standards in the teaching of reading and in order to ensure practice preached is impacting, all methods used and taught have been proven as successful over a period of four years of concentrated reading teaching to approximately 120 children. Methods are persistently reinforced or acquired through extensive research, reflection and adaptation in order to make sure Bright I's approach though unique and creative, is informed and far-reaching in effectiveness. Schools in partnership with Bright I's (including Aldermoor Farm, Richard Lee and Hill Farm in Coventry to name a few) have been satisfied and now that most assessment data is in prior to the final SAT's results, Bright I's can definitively state that the service delivers positive reading progress. Of the 138 children accessing the reading for mastery program 98% of which have hit the standards of Greater Depth across benchmarks papers sat over periods ranging from one to two terms and 100% of all children participating have expressed a true love for reading accessing wider range of texts while transferring taught comprehension skills each time.

Sounds all good? Well yes - to an extent as the service is never complacent. It proves that what Bright I's sets out to deliver has so far been met (an increase in GD attainment, a raised enjoyment of reading and more confident readers by the end of Primary). So what were the learning points for Bright I's? Simply because as an intervention specialist service in the mastery approach to reading, Bright I's has picked up on the sheer limitations of working alongside classroom practice without having inherent influence on classroom practice through the key staff: the classroom teacher. Where schools have been dynamic enough to make use of Bright I's teach-to-train approach there has been accelerated progress both in terms of the professional development of the teaching of reading in the classroom as well as attainment and progress of group participants.

Since October 2019, Bright I's has delivered CPD to over 125 teachers across KS1 and KS2 with some being trained on more than one occasion. By sharing best practices through observation of intervention strategies, trained teachers were able to take away many ideas that were implemented immediately with positive effect for whole class approaches. Children in group reading benefited from a uniformed approach and constant revisiting of what was taught by both Bright I's and the class teacher. This was extremely beneficial to their progress and retention of strategies. Both in group reading and in these classrooms the joy of reading maintained and children practised their reading skills frequently which enabled them to access a wider variety of texts in whole class reading sessions than that taught with Bright I's in groups.

Where schools worked explicitly with Bright I's teaching program with little or no interaction with key teaching staff, children did achieve great progress however demonstrated lower retention as they were exposed to wide and varied strategies that at times presented dichotomies or inconsistencies for the children. Where children worked with Bright I's for more than one term there was more sustained learning and these children retained well the methods taught in order to impact on classroom achievement in regular whole class sessions. Although their attainment and progress were positive it was at a slower rate than those whose teachers accessed the training. This highlighted that without teachers gaining the same training for mastery there were contradictions for those able children in classroom learning. Inherently where these children saw different approaches they chose to adhere to group reading strategies to their benefit. This is not to say the methods being taught in the classroom were not sufficient or quality but that the methods and the strategies taught in group reading proved easier to retrieve and apply which meant children often did not adhere to classroom practice taught. This is purely because group reading went slower and deeper, building into working memory faster and the methods used in sessions are cyclical with much practice. Bright I's wishes to see a more uniformed approach going ahead.

The lessons learned so far has led to Bright I's revamped focus as the only Teach-to-train consultancy in its remit - Reading. It is imperative going forward that engaging partner schools sees the benefit in investing in the practices of their classroom teachers who can apply mastery methods even with children they regard as not as able as those expected to meet greater depth. Teachers using Bright I's methods in whole class reading teaching have seen a marked difference in how this has changed their approach to teaching reading as being 'more systematic, robust and a deeper teach' according to one year 6 teacher, which benefits all children to access text despite observing them in a smaller group setting. Bright I's is sending a clear message at this point of its growth: Mastery is not just for able children but for ALL children and the raising of standards for teaching is not just an aside service but an integral part of classroom practice for all teachers.

Therefore in Bright I's Consultancy's next phase all teaching packages with children targeted for greater depth will offer teach-to-train sessions to ensure continuity of best practice both in group and whole class reading sessions to maximise the benefits of not just the children working with Bright I's, but children who are not. Bright I's will commit to boosting the professional development of class teachers by empowering them to take away from group reading sessions what works for whole class.

Bright I's remains dedicated to being on the chalk-line and walking alongside schools and their staff while raising practices to outstanding in the area of reading teaching and learning particularly for key stage 2. Enquiries are welcome to book a free presentation on how the teach-to-train model can work within your primary school with minimal impact to budget and maximum impact on results.

Kala Williams is a Primary based Education Consultant specialising in the teaching of reading for mastery who works across primary schools in the West Midlands, UK. She teaches to train, provides whole school CPD and coaches teachers daily to be their best reading teacher in the classroom. Follow her on twitter - @rogue_reading