Good literacy skills – the ability to read, write and communicate confidently – are the building blocks to all learning.
The most recent data published by the DfE in 2019, National curriculum assessments at KS2 in England, indicates that around four in ten disadvantaged 11-year-olds – 75,000 children – did not meet expected reading standards at Key Stage 2. In the same period, children in Barking and Dagenham performed above national averages, with 65% of disadvantaged Y6 children achieving expected standards in reading. But this still meant that 456 of our disadvantaged children did not (source: FFT Aspire – Barking and Dagenham). We know that these children will frequently have greater challenges at secondary school and, to quote the State of the Nation Report (2016), ‘disadvantaged children leave school with lower educational qualifications and have less of the non-academic skills and knowledge that determine success in the labour market’.
A recent report by the EEF (Education Endowment Fund), Improving Literacy in Key Stage 1 (2020), made eight recommendations:
Most of these recommendations for improving literacy are interwoven into the Reading Recovery process.
Reading Recovery (RR) is a literacy programme designed for the lowest achieving children in Year 1 that enables them to reach age expected levels within 20 weeks. It involves a short series of daily one-to-one lessons for 30 minutes with a Reading Recovery teacher.
Reading Recovery is different for every child, starting from what the child knows and what he/she needs to learn next. The focus of each lesson is to comprehend messages in reading and construct messages in writing. Children are learning how to use letter and word detail fluently, without losing focus on meaning and comprehension.
There is a wealth of research, spanning from 1989 to the present, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Reading Recovery Programme, most of which can be found on the UCL website. However, Hurry and Fridkin (2018) who looked at the impact of Reading Recovery ten years’ after children from across five London boroughs had completed the programme, found that in 2016 49% had gained 5-plus A* to C GCSEs including English and Maths, when the national average was 54%. These children had been identified as being in the lowest 20% of readers at age 6 and, of their peers in the control group, 23% had achieved the same. These findings lead the researchers to conclude that ‘early intervention is effective’.
Reading Recovery can only be delivered by qualified teachers who have completed a year-long professional development programme, led by a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader.
The London Poverty Profile 2021, commissioned by Trust for London, found that in Barking and Dagenham, 48% of our children live in poverty, third highest in London (with Hackney), and the proportion of the working-aged population on out of work benefits is the highest in London at 19.9% (with Haringey). We can’t change this, but we can provide our children with the skills that enable them to take up a wider range of career opportunities in adulthood.
To support children who are identified as being below the expected level in literacy, there are four key elements to the Barking and Dagenham intervention strategy to enable them to ‘catch up’:
Reading Recovery Teacher Leader
Louise Harding, who is based at Grafton School, is accredited by the Institute of Education to carry out the responsibility of the Reading Recovery Teacher Leader.
She will facilitate the year-long training programme for Reading Recovery Teachers providing advice and support as long as they remain accredited.
She has also introduced the Early Literacy Skills Programme and the Laurel Trust Reading Project.
Reading Recovery Teachers
Grafton’s Reading Recovery Centre is a local training resource which is commissioned by the LA and run by Louise Harding.
The role of the Reading Recovery Teacher
The local vision for Reading Recovery encompasses more than a teacher who runs the programme for the lowest attaining year 1 children. Once qualified, this teacher will be the literacy specialist within the school who will also:
- lead and support the Early Literacy Skills Programme and the provision of Recovery Reading Groups.
- train members of staff in taking running records and using the PM benchmark kits.
- help support KS1 and lower KS2 teachers in assessing children’s reading.
- set up a system for tracking children on reading interventions.
The RR teacher would ideally work directly with children five mornings per week with half a day non-contact time to devote to quality assurance and monitoring impact of interventions.
Qualification and Ongoing Support
The Initial Professional Development (IPD) in Reading Recovery is internationally recognised and accredited by the UCL Institute of Education. The course is for experienced teachers with an interest in early literacy intervention and literacy difficulties. It involves:
- three full days of training in assessment.
- twenty half-day training sessions with live lesson observations. The sessions will cover lesson observation, in-depth assessment of early literacy; analysis of teaching and learning; practical advice and guidance.
- support for developing whole school impact which includes exploration of literacy interventions to meet a range of needs.
- four scheduled support visits to your school and ongoing access to remote advice and support. These provide intensive, bespoke support for effective and efficient implementation of the programme.
- access to a secure, user-friendly data system for monitoring progress and providing summative reports of impact that support strategic leadership of literacy and the accountability agenda.
- support to develop effective approaches to ensure parental engagement. This enhances leaders’ confidence to work effectively with parents to ensure the programme has high quality outcomes.
To remain accredited, Reading Recovery Teachers must attend six CPD sessions per year and continue to collect data for the Reading Recovery National Network.
Early Literacy Skills Programme (ELSP)
The ELSP is an intensive, daily 1:1 programme for Y1 and Y2 children who are experiencing some difficulties in reading, for delivery by Teaching Assistants (TAs), delivered at Grafton Reading Recovery Centre. It aims to close the gap between a struggling child and their peers and in BDSIP’s review of impact in July 2021, we found that, on average, children made 8.7 months’ progress in ten weeks.
Delivering the ELSP in your setting
Ideally, the programme is overseen by a Reading Recovery Teacher. They will assess all children in Y1 and Y2 and, in discussion with class teachers, identify children who will be suitable for the programme. As a general rule, PPG and LAC are considered first.
It is important to note that the Reading Recovery Programme targets children in the lowest 20% of reading skills and the ELSP targets children who are just above this.
Training and Ongoing Support
The ELSP is facilitated by Louise Harding. The course is for TAs who are suitably skilled to provide early literacy intervention and who have an interest in literacy difficulties. It involves:
- three half-days of training in assessment.
- twenty two hour sessions to cover in-depth observation and assessment techniques; early literacy acquisition; strategies to assess children’s needs and provide appropriate support; and how to become reflective literacy practitioners.
- three scheduled support visits to your school and ongoing access to remote advice and support.
It is envisaged that the ELSP TAs will support your Reading Recovery Teacher in providing literacy expertise to your school as a whole.
The Laurel Trust Reading Project
This intervention, delivered as a research project with the Laurel Trust, is for children who do not have literacy difficulties but who are not achieving expected levels as a result of the disruption to their learning. Children would typically be identified as being up to six benchmark levels below expected.
This project provides a daily intervention for pairs or groups of three using the award winning Engage Literacy books. It can run for up to twelve weeks to support improvement of reading skills up to age-related levels.
Training and Ongoing Support
The Laurel Trust Reading Project is for TAs who are suitably skilled to provide support for reading and who have an interest in literacy. It involves:
- one half-day training in delivery of the programme.
- a commitment by the school of eighteen months to provide ongoing training and support for TAs.
- support for designated reading leads to quality assure the programme and ensure impact.
- a scheduled termly visit to your school and ongoing access to support and advice.
The long-term vision of this project is that Reading Recovery Teachers will be able to provide training and quality assurance of the intervention in their setting.
Literacy Difficulties in Secondary
While this model focuses on the importance of early intervention, we are mindful that some of our learners in KS3 will be struggling with curriculum access as a result of their literacy difficulties. To this end, we have begun to work with interested secondary colleagues to develop KS3 specific versions of these programmes. If you would like to find out more, please contact Louise Harding.
To book a place on any of the training programmes identified in this article, please visit the BDSIP website.
The Laurel Trust Reading Project
For general enquiries, please contact Louise Harding, Reading Recovery Teacher Leader at Grafton.