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Reading Together® and Early Reading Together®

School- and community-initiated supplementary supports

Design elements

Target for support (strengths and needs)

  • Priority is given to: Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (including students in any of years 0–8 and where there is ECE participation, including pre-school children); and to approved community-based providers.
  • Consideration is given to the inclusion of a limited number of other schools and early childhood education services, particularly where there is a significant number of priority group children and a strong rationale for the programmes.
  • A focus on engaging children through improving educationally powerful relationships with parents and whānau. The four key partners are: schools/early childhood services, community partners, parents and whānau, and local libraries.
  • Students requiring an acceleration of reading levels and associated focus on reading to learn.
  • Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi needs to be considered alongside other literacy support available as it complements, rather than replaces, effective classroom teaching.
  • Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi and Early Reading Together® help parents and whānau to read to and talk with their young children in ways that build a love of reading and lay a sound language and literacy foundation for children either presently learning or subsequently learning to read themselves.
  • Early Reading Together® is especially designed for babies to 5 year olds and strongly supports language development through encouraging a rich oral language environment.

Expected outcomes

For Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi

Effectively run workshops will lead to:

  • children gaining a year’s normal development in their reading levels in 12 weeks from the first workshop
  • gains being sustained over time
  • gains spreading to older siblings
  • parents and whānau gaining confidence and competence in helping their children’s reading at home
  • stronger learning partnerships between parents/children/schools/community-based partners
  • children more effectively engaged in their learning across the curriculum. 

For Early Reading Together®

Effectively run workshops will lead to:

  • parents and whānau gaining competence in helping their children’s reading at home
  • strengthened transition to school for children, with accelerated reading development
  • gains spreading to other siblings.

What data is used to support access decisions?

  • Participation in Kāhui Ako; and other information about individual schools.
  • Previous successful participation in Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi or other Ministry of Education contracts aimed at increasing student achievement. 

Delivery design (who, how long, interactions)

The Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi programme involves schools or community-based providers facilitating a series of four workshops over seven weeks for a group of up to 15 parents and whānau. For Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi an associated child attends the second workshop with the adult.

The Early Reading Together® programme involves ECEs, schools or community-based providers facilitating a series of three workshops over three weeks for a group of up to 12 parents and whānau.

The lead provider for both Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi and Early Reading Together®, whether a school, ECE or a community-based provider, links with the local community library, and parents and whānau.

The Biddulph Group has registered the Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi and Early Reading Together® programmes and owns all the associated intellectual property. The lead provider accesses the theory and methodology of the Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi programme or the Early Reading Together® programme via the Reading Together®: Workshop Leader’s Handbook or the Early Reading Together®: Workshop Leader’s Handbook. 

Where the Ministry approves new providers, including Kāhui Ako, support includes:

  • a Ministry supported briefing and training
  • provision of the handbook and assistance with parents’ resources associated with the programme
  • engagement with Ministry personnel if necessary.

Expressions of Interest for Community Provider, School and Kāhui Ako funding or funding for Early Reading Together® should be addressed to [email protected].

How will the support contribute to classroom practice (tier 1) and school capability?

Research evidence is clear that effectively implemented Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi workshops:

  • complement good classroom practice
  • increase the school's capability at building/supporting parents and whānau as learning partners  
    The Education Review Office identifies Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi as an effective tool for building “educationally powerful connections” with the home (ERO, “School Evaluation Indicators”, July 2016, p. 27)
  • lead to accelerated reading gains for children and improved engagement in learning at home and at school.

Community-based providers, working effectively with the other three key partners, will be able to secure the same benefits for learners. 

Early Reading Together®, which has the same strong basis in research evidence as Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi, provides a strong foundation for literacy development for pre-schoolers and 5 year olds (emergent readers to magenta level).

“Today ChildForum has announced it is getting behind the Early Reading Together® programme and will be promoting this to families with young children and with the early childhood sector … Early Reading Together® is focused on helping parents to talk with, read to and read with young children (and to sing with them, enjoy rhymes etc) while Reading Together® is mainly designed to help parents support their children effectively and positively when the child is reading to the parent at home.”

Dr Sarah Farquhar, CEO of ChildForum and author of MOE Quality Teaching Early Foundations: BES

How will the support contribute to building educationally powerful relationships with parents, whānau/family, hapu, iwi, and community?

Centre stage for the Early Reading Together® and Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi programmes is building the capacity and capability of parents and whānau to add huge value to children’s enjoyment of reading, reading for learning and engagement in learning. Building children’s confidence and joy in reading and learning becomes a shared task between the parent and whānau, child, community-based provider, school or ECE and classroom teacher. There is strong evidence from the Reading Together® research that Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi and Early Reading Together® build a strong and enduring partnership between the school, parents and whānau. Experience in the field shows that this also happens when workshops take place in different community settings. Subsequent support for the school and engagement with the school by the participant parents and whānau is considerably strengthened. This includes parents and whānau who previously had minimal or no engagement with the school. Schools that have embedded the Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi programme in their practice cite this as one of the most valued outcomes.

Fidelity elements (small groups, one on one, timing)

The following are identified as the critical success factors for implementing the Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi and Early Reading Together® programmes effectively:

  • Effective parent and whānau engagement
  • A strength based approach
  • A partnership/collaborative approach
  • Engaged and supportive leadership
  • All teachers as allies – a joined up approach involving all key partners
  • Reading Together®/Early Reading Together® are implemented as intended
  • The expertise/qualities of the workshop leaders
  • Accessing appropriate reading material
  • Plan for easy accessibility to workshops for parents and whānau

How is support monitored and measured by lead providers in terms of outcomes?

  • Lead providers collect attendance data from workshop participants to identify that the programme addresses the needs of priority learners and that attendance patterns reflect inclusive facilitation that is culturally appropriate.
  • Lead providers use the Feedback Sheets provided as part of the Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi and Early Reading Together® programme materials to collect qualitative feedback from participants.
  • Providers are asked to conduct pre- and post-workshop parent self-assessment surveys.
  • Schools analyse the impact of the Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi programme on outcomes for students through National Standards data and measures of student engagement, requiring a level of comparative analysis of outcomes for students who are Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi “beneficiaries” versus outcomes for other students.

What needs to be sustained?

Schools are encouraged to build Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi workshops into their annual cycle. Targeting all new enrolments is considered an optimal approach for sustainability – ensuring over time that all parents are therefore beneficiaries of the workshops. Similarly Early Reading Together® workshops can target all new enrolments at ECEs.

Roles and responsibilities for the support

What are the conditions for successful delivery?


Early Reading Together® and Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi are registered programmes and the Biddulph Group provides the workshop leader’s handbooks and parents’ resources.

Lead provider – school or community-based group

  • The lead provider leads the process of inviting parents and whānau to attend the workshops.
  • The lead provider facilitates the four Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi workshops or three Early Reading Together® workshops. Culturally appropriate and inclusive practice is required along with literacy/reading expertise.
  • The lead provider needs to ensure the enduring partnership is one between the learner, the parents and whānau, and the early childhood service or classroom teacher, and any other identified key partner.
  • The lead provider needs to link with the local library to ensure the library supports the workshops.


  • Provision of a briefing to Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi lead providers that outlines the critical success factors, the system support, and the priority partnerships.
  • Negotiation with individual lead providers about the funding support provided for whānau engagement.
  • Engaging in learning conversations in an ongoing manner.
  • Integrating Early Reading Together® and Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi into all Ministry (especially regional) interaction and other engagement with participating early childhood services and schools.
  • Monitoring outcomes and ensuring lead providers provide the completed reporting templates.

Please contact [email protected] for more information on funding.

Updated on: 11 Nov 2020

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