Intervention details

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Reading Recovery

Strong for Primary reading
UK Evaluated in the UK

Intervention description

Reading Recovery is a short-term early intervention tutoring programme aimed at struggling readers in KS1 (the lowest-achieving 20%). The goals of Reading Recovery are to promote literacy skills, reduce the number of KS1 pupils who are struggling to read, and prevent long-term reading difficulties.

The intervention can last up to 20 weeks but pupils who progress more quickly may finish within 12 weeks. The focus of each lesson is to comprehend messages in reading and construct messages in writing, learning how to attend to detail without losing focus on meaning. The lessons include assessment, reading known stories, reading a story that was read once the day before, writing a story, working with a cut-up sentence, and reading a new book. The lesson series finishes when the child is able to read and write without help, at the appropriate level for their age.

Staffing requirements

Pupils participating in Reading Recovery receive daily 30-minute one-to-one lessons with a specially trained Reading Recovery teacher, which supplement their normal reading classes.

PRofessional development/training

Reading Recovery teacher training is held at local Reading Recovery centres and accredited by the UCL Institute of Education. The Initial Professional Development (IPD) course is part-time and spread across a full school year. The IPD course costs £2,924. Continuing professional development is available once qualified as a Reading Recovery teacher.

Evidence Summary

The Best Evidence Encyclopaedia (2009) rated Reading Recovery as having strong evidence of effectiveness for struggling readers but only limited effectiveness for pupils with English as an Additional Language.

Sirinides et al (2018) carried out a four year evaluation of a national scale-up of Reading Recovery. The evaluation included an implementation study and a multisite randomised controlled trial with 6,888 pupils in 1,222 schools in the US. The study found a large effect size on pupils' reading over the course of the four years.

The studies found a mean effect size of +0.35 for primary reading.

Strong for Primary reading
No. of studies 8
No. of students 8,290
Average effect size +0.35

Key research

The What Works Clearinghouse (2008) found Reading Recovery to have positive effects on alphabetics and general reading achievement, and potentially positive effects on fluency and comprehension.

Sirinides et al (2018) found Reading Recovery to have a significant positive impact on pupils' reading. The effect sizes tended to be larger in schools where pupils had lower average reading performance overall.

Key stages

  • Key Stage 1

Targeted groups

  • Struggling readers


£2658 per pupil

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