Page last updated at 23:17 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 00:17 UK

Catch-up reading scheme 'success'

By Hannah Goff
BBC News, education reporter

Struggling young readers make lasting progress on a scheme that offers one-to-one support, a study suggests.

The government-funded Reading Recovery gives six-year-olds tailored coaching from specially-trained teachers for half an hour a day for 12 to 20 weeks.

A study of 500 pupils found those on the programme not only caught up with their age-group but were out-performing the national average within two years.

Problem readers on other catch-up schemes remained a year or more behind.

About 5,000 children are currently on the government-backed scheme which is part of its national Every Child a Reader programme, and ministers aim to roll out to 30,000 pupils by 2010.

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Pupils talk about their intensive reading lessons

The Institute of Education study assessed the progress of 500 of the poorest young readers at 42 schools in 10 inner London boroughs.

The ability of the eight poorest readers in each class was assessed at the beginning of the first year of primary school, at the end of the first and second years.

Some 87 were on the intensive Reading Recovery scheme while the rest were on other catch-up schemes.

After the first year, those doing Reading Recovery had caught up and met the reading standards for their age group.

By the end of the second year, 86% of those who had received Reading Recovery in the first year went on to achieve the expected reading level for a seven-year-old in their national tests.

This compared to 57% of those on other schemes and the national average of 80%.

What this study shows is that schools could enable almost every child to read and write appropriately for their age
Dr Sue Burroughs-Lange

Lead researcher Dr Sue Burroughs-Lange said the kind of children the study looked at were some of the poorest readers of their age-group in the country.

She said: "They probably can write their first name, they usually can't read a book at all and they probably know five to eight letters - and that's after they have been in school for a year or more.

"What this study shows is that schools could enable almost every child to read and write appropriately for their age if those who were failing were given access to expert teaching in Reading Recovery at an early age."

If the scheme was rolled out to the estimated 30,000 children who leave primary school unable to read properly, then all but the 1 or 1.5% of children who have long term special learning needs could be reading properly, she said.

Reading Recovery costs around 2,500 per pupil - about the same amount primary schools have for one child's education for a year.

The results are particularly striking given that children on the programme are in the bottom 5% nationally when they start
Lord Adonis, Schools Minister

But its evangelists argue that the total spend during a struggling reader's primary school life is almost as much, at around 2,400.

Dr Burroughs-Lange argues that the money is already being spent but on schemes that do not work, so it would be better to spend it more wisely.

Schools minister Andrew Adonis said: "Through our literacy programmes we are making huge strides in getting those children who are really struggling up to the same standard as their peers by the time they are seven years old.

"The results are particularly striking given that children on the programme are in the bottom 5% nationally when they start."




SEE ALSO
Getting readers back on track
08 May 08 |  Education
Close help 'boosts slow readers'
06 Nov 06 |  Education
Teaching of reading to be revised
20 Mar 06 |  Education
How phonics became easy as a-b-c
17 Mar 06 |  Education
Research questions phonics policy
31 Jan 06 |  Education
The debate about phonics teaching
01 Dec 05 |  Education

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