The Effectiveness of Reading Buddies – by Carol Pope

6 June 2018

A small scale DIY study completed by one of our Aspirer Research Leads – Carol Pope


The following research took place in a large primary school in a town in North West UK.  The school is two form entry and has a diverse socio economic catchment (13% of children are Pupil Premium).  The children in this trial were taken from the two Year 3 classes.  Each class has approximately 30 children.

Inspiration and rationale

As Reading Recovery teacher, I have a love of reading and recognise the importance of a child’s ability to read with fluency and confidence.  I track children who have had the Reading Recovery programme as they progress through the school to ensure their reading ability is maintained and that they continue to thrive as readers.  Through doing this, I recognised that some children were not making the progress I would have hoped and this often seemed to correlate with them not reading regularly at home.  After discussion with teachers and further investigation with other children it became obvious this was not just confined to children from the Reading Recovery programme.  As a result, I decided to research the impact of daily reading with a reading buddy on progress of children not reading regularly at home.

 It is the quantity of successful reading that builds the assured independence of the competent reader. (Clay, 2016)

Implementation of inquiry

I decided to carry out my research working alongside the teachers in Year 3.  I requested from each teacher the names of eight lower attaining readers who the teachers felt did not read regularly at home.  Once I had the names, I chose four from each class at random who would be given reading buddies and the other children would be the control group.  I tested all sixteen children using the British Abilities Scales II word Reading Test as this gave me a standardised score and reading age as well as a raw score.  I then asked the teachers to give me the names of children (four from each class) who were higher attaining readers and who they felt would make good reading buddies.  The class teachers then paired the children as they saw appropriate.  I took the children who were given the role of buddies and gave them some ‘training’.  This demonstrated to them how they could help their buddy without reading tricky words for them unless really necessary.  They were also given a buddy reading record sheet to fill in.  The children then read to their buddy daily (or as often as possible) for a period of ten weeks.  After ten weeks all eight children from each class were tested again using the BAS test to see if there was any improvement in their score and/or reading age.  Using children from two different classes was an attempt to make the research more reliable.


The post intervention test showed that all children in the intervention group had made progress. Their raw score demonstrated an increase of between 3 and 11. (See Appendix 1) There was a corresponding increase in their standardised score and reading age. (See Appendix 2). Within the control group, some children’s raw scores had also improved but these improvements were less than the intervention group. (See Appendices 3 and 4).

The overall effect size was 0.5168.

This is a medium effect size and would suggest the use of reading buddies is definitely worth exploring further.

Limitations of research

The results of this small study do indicate that the use of reading buddies for daily reading can improve a child’s ability to ‘read words’.  However, this research does not show us whether there is an improvement in the children’s ability to understand and infer information within a text.  The use of reading buddies in this context would therefore be limited to increasing reading mileage and word recognition.  Some of these limitations could perhaps be overcome by using a different pre and post-test which is not based solely on word recognition.

Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading. Everyone agrees that reading comprehension is not a simple matter of recognising individual words  ( Nation, K. 2005)


The research would suggest that there is definitely a place for reading buddies to be used to increase children’s reading mileage.  This would be in addition to other current reading opportunities within the classroom.   It is my intention to introduce the system in other year groups and to continue to monitor the impact across the school.

Please click here to see the appendices

Posted on 6 June 2018
Posted in: Latest Research Evidence