Developing inference skills for struggling readers

Updated: 5 days ago

Can inference skills be taught?

The short answer is yes, the long answer (which is the one we should be interested in if we hope to ensure all pupils become excellent readers) is more complicated. There are many pupils who struggle with inference making and solving this is made difficult by


a) complex research information,

b) a lack of professional development time / focus on the long answer to developing reading, and

c) the time, headspace and joint conversations needed to turn this into well informed actions at whole school level, phase level and individual teacher level.


Pupil difficulties that are experienced by many pupils, across many schools (or even countries) can be categorised as 'hard to fix'. If it was easy to fix, schools would have already addressed the issue! Inference falls into one of those 'hard to fix' issues for many pupils. Why?


Inference generation plays a crucial role in reading comprehension. As I worked to gather my materials and set out the blog post, I realised that the complexity of the issues warranted a more substantial answer. Instead of a blog post, I produced 50-page professional development think piece and study booklet focusing on inference. Blogs can only take you so far... A downloadable booklet allows for breaking the advice into clear sections and offering opportunities for the reader to complete thinking activities based on the text. Based on a wide range of personal knowledge, school based experience and research documents, the booklet aims to support schools in turning theory into practical action through a mix of long-term and short-term steps.


The booklet is broken down into two sections : first, consideration for the wider issues of why it is difficult to develop inference skills; second, consideration for practical activities which teachers may find useful in designing lessons that support pupils to develop inference skills.


There is a small fee to cover the work involved in creating the booklet. However, if you wish to purchase any of my courses or book any live zoom support, I will happily send you the booklet free of charge.



A small fee for the download has been applied. Colleagues might also be interested in a free analysis of end of KS2 reading SATs papers which can be downloaded from the online store.


If inference is something that you are particularly interested in, you might like to book a 2-hour leadership support sessions and/or twilight training (both via zoom) these can be delivered to build teacher/leader knowledge and to help create an action plan for developing inference.


If you are looking for a wider solution to developing reading comprehension, then you might be interested in the full reading comprehension online course (available as a single user account for a reading leader or multiple accounts for whole school development).



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