A Year 6 group leader shares his Reading Gladiators™ experience

Stephen Connor from Weston on Trent CofE Primary School shares his experience of running a group in Year 6 in his second Reading Gladiators™ school.

This is the second year my school has been running Reading Gladiators™ – currently only with year 6 – and the children’s enthusiasm has steadily grown from last year to this. We meet once a week, usually on a Tuesday afternoon as I am out of class, and sessions have ranged from 40 minutes to an hour and a half. I have previously tried to run sessions at lunchtimes but things invariably pop up, taking time away from discussion and activities. It turns out that the children don’t mind missing a bit of their afternoon learning to talk about books instead! As a small school, word gets around quite quickly, and it is great to hear other children ask when they can become Reading Gladiators too. 

One of the main benefits of Reading Gladiators has been the buzz that the group creates, both in class and around school.

They are always keen to share the latest book they are reading, and this filters into conversations with their classmates and peers on the playground. It has been crucial in promoting the idea of reading for pleasure and enjoyment. As well as this, the children have been exposed to authors they may not otherwise have turned to – the book selection is always interesting and diverse, both for me and for the children.

The difference in attitude towards reading has been noted by colleagues, especially when the children have been working on a project after finishing a book. The headteacher often pops in to catch up and speaks with the children regularly about which book they are currently looking at, further promoting the importance of reading. The children’s responses to The Skylarks’ War were so enthusiastic that the head had to take a copy away with her! The Skylarks' War

This year, the children have shared their book with the whole school in assembly, something I would like to encourage across the whole school over time. This role of ambassadorship is an aspect Reading Gladiators lends itself to really well, and with the revamped version of Reading Gladiators coming next year, we are hoping to get more children (and staff!) involved in order to further spread the love of reading.

The lockdown at the end of last year obviously curtailed our efforts somewhat, but I was delighted when the children asked if they could continue from home. Parents were really supportive with this too. We met once a week (we read Clean Getaway by Nic Stone once we’d finished the Reading Gladiator books) and since then, one of the Reading Gladiators has devoured most of the Knights Of back catalogue. This time around, lockdown happened just as we were ready to start our group. The children and I met up once a week online, which definitely wasn’t the same as meeting in person, but it meant a slow, soft introduction to discussions, and now the group is much chattier.


carol Anne Duffy Rebound

I also led a year 6 Reading Gladiator group in my previous school, so this is my fifth year. This has put me in the fortunate position of reading several amazing books with the children. I particularly liked Carol Ann Duffy’s collection, which really inspired some of the children I was working with, and last year, Rebound by Kwame Alexander was a real hit. This year, I have enjoyed both books, but am particularly looking forward to rereading The Space We’re In – it is a stunning book.





The space were in

Working with children through the Reading Gladiators™ groups allows a relationship to develop around reading, and this is special, valuable and important.

I would encourage anyone thinking about it to get involved

Watch a short video introduction to Reading Gladiators™.

Find out more about the new flexible structure of Reading Gladiators™ on the About Page.

and to join for September 2021 go to the Booking Page.


Stephen is an excellent model for his Reading Gladiators as an avid reader himself.  He is on our expert reading panel. You can read his reviews alongside many others of high quality books you can use in your classrooms on our searchable Reviews page.