Intervention details

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Reading Intervention

Moderate for Secondary reading
Limited for Primary reading
UK Evaluated in the UK

Intervention description

Reading Intervention is an intensive programme which targets primary age pupils who have significant delays in the development of reading skills. It was initially developed in Cumbria following Hatcher and colleagues’ (1994) findings that interventions combining reading and phonology skills were more effective than those focusing on reading or phonology skills alone. Since then, the North Yorkshire Reading Intervention has also been developed to follow the same principles and structure.

It uses a variation of the Reading Recovery programme with additional specific tuition in phonological awareness, letter sounds, sound blending, syllables and words within sentences. Each pupil receives four thirty-five minute sessions a week for twelve weeks. The sessions follow a prescribed format although the content of the lesson is personalised to the pupil's individual needs, which are assessed at the beginning of the intervention and monitored throughout. Sessions begin by reading an easy book (one that the pupil is able to read with 95-100% accuracy). This is followed by reading a book at instructional level (one that the pupil is able to read with 90-94% accuracy), as well as practising letter recognition and formation, completing oral phonological activities, writing a sentence or short story, cutting up a sentence or short story and re-arranging it, and finally introducing a new book at an appropriate level.

Staffing requirements

The programme involves tutoring conducted by trained teachers or teaching assistants, on a one-to-one basis in the Cumbria Reading Intervention or in small groups in the North Yorkshire Reading Intervention.

Professional development/training

Training in the programme is available to teachers in Cumbria and Rochdale through the Cumbria Reading Intervention, or in North Yorkshire through the North Yorkshire Reading Intervention. Tutors from Cumbria also work with other Local Authorities to develop their capacity to implement the programme.

Evidence Summary

The Best Evidence Encyclopaedia (2009) rated Reading Intervention as having strong evidence of effectiveness for struggling readers.

The Education Endowment Foundation recently investigated the effectiveness of Reading Intervention as part of their REACH research project, which found that REACH had a positive effect on children's reading skills and reading accuracy, but a much smaller effect on reading comprehension.

The studies found a mean effect size of +0.30 for primary reading and +0.42 for secondary reading.

Moderate for Secondary reading
No. of studies 1
No. of students 287
Average effect size +0.42
Limited for Primary reading
No. of studies 2
No. of students 276
Average effect size +0.30

Key research

In the Education Endowment Foundation study staff reported that the interventions improved literacy, reading ability, and confidence. Staff views were more positive in schools where the interventions were delivered by experienced teaching assistants, supported by senior staff, and allocated a dedicated space for delivery.

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