About Us

Using meticulous design based on sound research, Thinking Reading ensures rapid progress for struggling readers. Pupils learn not only that they can be good at reading, but also that they can be good at learning.    

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Our mission is to ensure that all pupils leave secondary school reading well. We support schools with training, resources and lesson design, so that pupils who were struggling with their reading catch up quickly and completely. 

Thinking Reading is a whole-school strategy with an intensive, one-to-one intervention at its heart. Our practice is built upon the synthesis of well-evidenced teaching methods with decades of research evidence to support them. In addition to consulting with school leaders and training to build teachers' knowledge, we publish the resources needed for this intensive teaching, along with a 10-part lesson plan that ensures individualisation of each precise step in a clear, easy-to-use format.  

We use our extensive experience in literacy, teacher development and leadership to help schools develop coherent literacy strategies with maximum impact. We also provide ongoing advice and guidance to schools in order to help solve specific learning or teaching issues, to maximise progress, and to link teachers and tutors in a professional community. 

We are always happy to answer enquiries. For more information, or to arrange a free telephone consultation, please get in touch through our contact page.  

Dianne and James Murphy

Why Thinking Reading?

“You will always have children who will fail.”

I was in my second year of teaching, and had asked for advice on how to help two boys in my Year 2 class who were not making the same progress in reading as the other children. This was the advice! It was then and there that I determined that my pupils would not be condemned to failure when they had barely even started their educational journeys. It was also the moment when I knew that I would have to go and look for the answers myself.

I applied for and won a place on a one-year, full-time post-graduate diploma in special education. The course was unique at the time in that it placed a strong emphasis on empirical research, how to evaluate educational research, and how to apply it for children’s benefit. It was without doubt one of the best years of my professional life, and it gave me the knowledge that my initial teacher training had not.

Faced with the problem of older children who were well behind in their reading as a Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour, I applied this study to develop reading programmes that could be delivered by teaching assistants and monitored by me on a weekly basis. The results were so striking that I went on to set up a Literacy and Numeracy Centre in a large suburban high school. Once again, pupils made rapid progress. Later, I had further opportunities to set up Literacy Centres in secondary schools in West London and North London. In both schools, all pupils caught up completely in their reading, with remarkable effects on their confidence, self-esteem, and behaviour.

It was clear, though, that we were reaching only a tiny fraction of the many students who need effective reading help at secondary school. In 2013, I left the classroom to scale up Thinking Reading so that it could be implemented in other schools. I worked for two years on my own, without a salary, and might not have been able to go on but for winning a Teach First Innovation Award in 2015 that gave me not only six months of salary, but also access to a community of innovators, entrepreneurs and experts.

Thinking Reading is now a self-sustaining, growing social business. We work in partnership with schools, and their reports of pupil progress assure us that Thinking Reading does what it set out to do – to ensure rapid, complete and sustained catch-up in reading.

If you’d like to find out how you can get involved or support us in this work, get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.

Dianne Murphy

“Thinking Reading addresses the critical problem of poor literacy faced by some secondary students in today’s education system. Its whole school strategy is based on best practice teaching procedures along with a wide range of real books and a system for individualising each students’ programme.  I’m greatly looking forward to seeing how Innovation Award Winner Thinking Reading grows over the next year to enable students to achieve outstanding progress in reading and to maintain their gains, and proud that Teach First’s Innovation Unit will support its development through partnership in 2015/16."
Brett Wigdortz, Founder and CEO, Teach First – September 2015