In his 2006 report on the
teaching of early reading, Sir Jim Rose said, ''The indications are that, when children do not get a really good start, they are likely to need interventions to enable them to 'catch up' and 'recover' ground that they should not have lost in the first place'' (Rose
Report 2006.para 100)
In the same report, Sir Jim Rose recommended that additional support in ALL the waves/tiers of intervention should be fully compatible with mainstream practice (high quality, systematic synthetic phonics taught discretely)
(Rose Report 2006 p70)) and he rightly rejected the NLS
multi-cueing word guessing strategies (Searchlights)
''(E)ffective intervention work should focus on the phonic
skills children have already met in their mainstream classes but
may need more help and time from skilled adults to strengthen
and secure those aspects they had not first understood''
(Rose Report 2006 para153)
Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary at the time, accepted all the Rose
Report's recommendations and said she would ensure they were implemented.The DfES (now DfE) followed up Kelly's statement, saying, ''High-quality phonic work, as defined by the Rose review, should be a key feature of literacy provision in all the ‘waves’ of intervention'' (DfES
''I am often asked about the role of phonics in 'catch up'...
Phonics is the basic mechanism of all reading...There are no reliable alternatives''
The National Curriculum, statutory in state maintained schools, states:
"If they are still struggling to decode and spell, they need to be taught to do this urgently through a rigorous and systematic phonics programme so that they catch up rapidly."
Your Options for Intervention -and what to avoid:
1. Rely on 'in school' support
which presently, due to the wide-spread lack of knowledge of
the most effective way to remediate most word decoding
difficulties, usually amounts to little more than the pupil
being expected to memorise lists of high frequency 'sight
words' and work through the book levels of a non-systematic,
multi-cueing intervention programme (see below) in small
groups or 1-1 (often time limited to 10 weeks) with a teaching assistant (TA).
Parents should be aware that, in most state schools, children struggling with reading are likely to be placed with a TA for literacy support. In fact, the more severe their difficulties the more likely that they will be taken out of class and taught by a TA whilst their classmates remain in the classroom and are taught by the teacher. ''There has been a drift towards TAs becoming, in effect, the primary educators of lower-attaining pupils and those with SEN'' (TeachPrimary.issue 6.3.p13).
A five year study (Diss: Deployment and impact of support staff) found that there was a consistent negative relationship between the amount of TA support a pupil received and the pupil's progress. This was found across primary and secondary years. A primary teacher comments, ''(T)he slower learners and those with often complicated special needs are "taught" maths and English in small groups or individually by untrained (but very well meaning) classroom assistants leaving the rest with the teacher. It has always struck me as a paradox that the most needy are taught by (with the greatest of respect) the least capable staff''. Note, this is not a clear cut issue as there are schools with (HL)TAs who are highly effective at teaching struggling readers because they are fully trained literacy specialists and very capable of delivering a high quality synthetic phonics intervention programme.
2018. Children receiving targeted literacy support ''have
less access to their teacher's time and expertise''
For information on teaching struggling readers at the secondary stage - see teenagers.
In a 2009 speech Sir Jim Rose confirmed what leading UK and International reading experts had said all along, that Reading Recovery (RR) is ''a multi-cueing, non-systematic approach'' (Rose. Presentation to Speld).
Despite RR being incompatible with the 2006 Rose Report recommendations and despite their earlier promises (see above), inexplicably, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF
2009) continued to encourage and fund schools to use RR as a Wave 3 intervention for Y1 children AND recommended that they 'layer' RR with a range of other RR-clones, all found under the Every Child a Reader (ECaR)
mantle. In this way the then DCSF continued to endorse whole
language and effectively ensured that the multi-cueing decoding
strategies became deeply embedded in most schools.
Parliament's all-party Science and Technology committee
also questioned the use of Reading Recovery:
Dec 2009. Evidence Check on Early Literacy Interventions
Having checked all the evidence, the committee said:
''Teaching children to read is one of the most important things the State does. The Government has accepted Sir Jim Rose's recommendation that systematic phonics should be at the heart of the Government's strategy for teaching children to read. This is in conflict with the continuing practice of word memorisation and other teaching practices from the 'whole language theory of reading' used particularly in Wave 3 Reading Recovery. The Government should vigorously review these practices with the objective of ensuring that Reading Recovery complies with its policy''.
RRF's response to the HoC S&T select comm. Evidence check report on Literacy interventions.
The formerly ring-fenced ECaR funding
was incorporated into the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG)
in 2011. Both the DSG and the pupil premium (additional funding given to
state schools in England to raise the attainment of
disadvantaged pupils) are used by many schools to provide
ineffective, non-systematic multi-cueing intervention
programmes for their struggling readers; Reading Recovery or, more commonly,
'cheaper to implement' close copies of RR.
The DfE is still funding Reading Recovery along with
multiple close copies (see below), all under the ECaR mantle.
''In Bristol, schools cannot access any CPD on phonics at all,
the only message is RR. Phonically decodable books are
actively discouraged by the Bristol reading advisors''
(Teacher in Bristol)
''Boosting Reading Potential (BRP) has been rebranded and updated. There are now two versions of the programme: boostingreading@primary (BR@P) and boostingreading@secondary (BR@S)''
BRP is a Wave 2 non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme. BRP was ''developed by Bradford Local Education Authority (LEA) in 1996 and is based on the Reading Recovery Programme''...''The reading partner notes the child's use of the three BRP reading strategies: grapho-phonic (visual), syntactic (structure) and semantic (meaning). Weaknesses are addressed through prompts: "Does that look right?", "Does that sound right?", and "Does that make sense?" (Dunford.LiteracyTrust) ''BoostingReading@Primary is recognised as an effective intervention by the European Centre for Reading Recovery at the Institute of Education, University of London, and is included in Every Child a Reader''
Catch Up Literacy is a Wave 3, non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme. www.catchup.org
Dee Reid, 'the lead literacy consultant to Catch Up', gave the following advice to the mum of a struggling reader age 10:
''If Jayden gets stuck on a word, tell him what the word is and then ask him to repeat it. Give him a clue to remind him how to remember the word next time, e.g. ‘It’s in the picture’ or ‘Look at the letters at the beginning’' (Catch Up Newsletter Sept 2011)
A past issue of the Australian brochure made it clear that Catch Up Literacy is a Reading Recovery clone: ''Makes use of all ‘recommended’ teaching approaches. Whole language approach covering reading, writing, spelling and handwriting, Complements ‘Reading Recovery’ (enabling pupils to gain support in later years)''
A comparison of the recommendations of the 2006 Rose Report and Catch Up programme training:
Pearson-Heinemann's 'Rapid Reading' is a KS2 Wave 3, non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme.
The series editors, Dee Reid and Diana Bentley, also devised the 'Catch Up Literacy' programme -see above.
Caution -do not confuse Rapid Reading with Pearson's
Rapid Phonics intervention programme.
''The government has invested considerable funds via the EEF to run randomized controlled trials. One of the RCT evaluations recently released by the EEF was for a programme called Switch-On Reading. What is not apparent in the headline, but appears later in the report, is that the programme is in fact a repackaging of Reading Recovery, which is now being aimed at students at the transition between Key Stages 2 and 3''
and effect sizes:
Fischer Family Trust (FFT) Wave 3.
http://literacy.fischertrust.org/overview/wave-3/ is another non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme. ''It is based on the pedagogy and practice of Reading Recovery''.
Peter Hatcher's book Sound Linkage.
'Phonological awareness training' where children are trained
to manipulate sounds in words orally without using printed
letters and spellings
(see method 3 for discussion of phonological awareness training).
Designed to be used alongside reading instruction based on the Reading Recovery approach. ''In Hatcher's own work, he has incorporated Sound Linkage into the Marie Clay Reading Recovery framework'' (The Study of Dyslexia. p120)
R + P interventions (interventions based on Reading Recovery methodology + Phonological Awareness training)
Cumbria Reading Intervention
This 1-1 intervention was mentioned approvingly by Prof.
Elliott in the Channel 4 TV documentary 'The Dyslexia Myth' (2005)
This perhaps gave it some credence that it doesn't
deserve as it consists of a Reading Recovery clone
along with Hatcher's Sound Linkage phonological awareness programme.
When challenged about the reading intervention's use of RR
methodology, Elliott said ''The delivery structure was based on
the RR model but, as I state, it introduced the necessary
structured phonics...I do not advocate RR for RD kids''
leveled reading books (repetitive/predictive text) used
throughout the intervention were from Hatcher's Graded Booklist
John Walker comments on the books in Hatcher's Booklist:
The Cumbria Reading Intervention (see above) was adopted by
North Yorkshire and re-named:
The North Yorks Reading Intervention Project:
''In the R+P intervention study reported here, 28% of the 20-week and 21% of the 10-week Intervention group had standard scores below 80 at the end of the intervention.. Moreover, children varied in their responsiveness to the teaching they received and about a quarter could be defined as treatment 'non-responders''
Phonology with Reading programme (Nuffield Foundation.Language4Reading) was a research project using an R+P intervention with at-risk children. It combined Jolly Phonics materials (for teaching 36 GPCs over 20 weeks) with 'oral phonological awareness' exercises (Hatcher's Sound Linkage), plus ''direct teaching in [global] sight word recognition'' and immediate
reading practice using 'real' books, leveled using Hatcher's whole language banding system. ''The Teaching Assistant monitored the child’s reading ability by taking a running record of the child reading a book at the instructional level in each individual session. One new book was introduced per session, which the child attempted to read independently, before finishing off with guided reading of the new book''. The resulting research paper by Bowyer-Crane et al (2007) revealed that, ''At the end of the intervention, more than 50% of at-risk children remain in need of literacy support''
N.B. the actual Jolly Phonics programme teaches a Basic Code of 42 GPCs in as little as 7 weeks, with phonically decodable words and sentences provided for reading practice in order to avoid needing multiple decoding strategies and global sight word memorisation.
A version of the R+P Phonology with Reading programme -see above, was used in a study for children with Down Syndrome (Kelly Burgoyne et al) ‘'The Reading and Language Intervention for Children with Down Syndrome combines reading and language instruction in daily teaching sessions that are designed to meet the particular learning needs of children with Down syndrome. It incorporates work on letter knowledge, phonological awareness, whole word and book reading''.
''After 40 weeks of intervention, the intervention group remained numerically ahead of the control group on most key outcome measures; but these differences were not significant''
In contrast, as a result of her own extensive research, a highly experienced educational psychologist recommends using a systematic synthetic phonics programme with children with Down syndrome. This EP comments, ''Of course we would not deny oral language development work with any children with global learning difficulties, but where we differ would be that we would start with phonics and try to establish phonics as primary strategy for reading, whereas this new initiative seems to be just a re-hash of oral language with a searchlights type approach''.
Undeterred by the lack of
good results when using an intervention in which the 'reading strand' consists of an R+P approach, researchers used this style of intervention again in a study with children 'at risk for dyslexia'. In the description of the intervention it says: ‘’In all reading activities, phonic decoding is encouraged as the primary strategy for reading unknown words; other strategies (e.g. use of context and pictures) are also taught’’
Study's conclusion ''This new intervention was theoretically motivated and based on previous successful interventions
[sic], yet failed to show reliable effects on language and literacy measures following a rigorous evaluation''.
Synthetic / linguistic phonics programmes suitable for intervention:
See (guidance only) Primary intervention X
Teenagers/adults intervention X
Cumulative linguistic phonics teaching. This is a slower version of Sounds-Write
intervention tutoring to help kids who have very poor memories, to more easily remember the spelling alternatives.
2. Only for the wealthy, or for the few who can obtain an
- an independent school with specialist 'dyslexia' teaching.
This often involves the child boarding,
which can be an extra trauma for an already unhappy child,
and there is NO guarantee that the school will use a high quality synthetic phonics intervention programme to teach reading. Some of the methods used to teach reading in these schools are best described as 'quirky'. www.rrf.org.uk/messageforum/viewtopic.php?t=3432
Note that, ''Brooks (2007) has described ratio gains of between 1.4 and 2.0 as having ‘small impact’ and being ‘of modest educational significance’; ratio gains less than 1.4 he classes as being of ‘very small impact’ and ‘of doubtful educational significance’. On this basis all the results reported from studies in UK specialist [dyslexia] schools and teaching centres would be regarded as disappointing (or even disregarded altogether), since the largest ratio gain was only 2.0 (except at Moon Hall School [which uses a programme similar to the Sound Reading System]'' (italics added. Singleton p74)
3. Use an alternative therapy on the basis of personal anecdotes.
Note, ''Testimonials are the number one tool of choice for those who do not have evidence'' (Guy Chapman.Guardian comment) Alternative therapies for reading difficulties / dyslexia, ''generally have a weak (or non-existent) evidence base and poor efficacy, and often rely on the superficial attractiveness of a promised instant (and comparatively effortless) ‘cure’' (Singleton p22) Even if the alternative intervention is non-harmful, there is an opportunity cost for students (and often a financial cost to parents), and a residue of negative emotion for both parents and child when the system has no discernible effect (Hempenstall) See Room 101: Fad, fraud and folly in 'dyslexia' and the teaching of reading.
4. Privately arranged specialist tuition.
Carefully chosen tuition, where the tutor uses a high quality
synthetic / linguistic phonics programme, can be the solution,
if it can be afforded and as long as the child is happy to
attend. For school-attending
children, specialist tuition can take place legally off the school premises, during
school hours, at the discretion of the school, as an 'Approved educational activity off-site'. For the youngest children, 6-7 yr.olds, this is really essential as they are far too tired after school. Parents should approach the school in a spirit of co-operation and negotiate a mutually agreeable time to withdraw their child for tuition. It is, after all, in the school's interest to have their pupils able to read and write effectively.
In law it is always the parents' duty to provide a
suitable education for their children, including catering for any special needs (Education Act 1996 Section 7). Normally, parents delegate this duty to a school. If parents believe that the school is failing to provide their child with a 'suitable' education then the parents are obliged to do something about it. By arranging specialist tuition during school hours, they
are acting responsibly and are trying to fulfil their lawful
duty by setting up what the school can't/won't provide. The
school needs to have a very good reason to withhold consent -
is the school able/willing to provide equivalent tuition: regular one-to-one
tutoring by someone with expertise in using synthetic phonics remedially, paid for by the school? Probably not!
Important: If your child is receiving tuition using a synthetic/linguistic phonics intervention programme, in school or out, it is always beneficial, sometimes vital, in order for the programme to be fully effective, that your child is not confused by 'mixed messages' as a result of being expected to use a range of strategies (multi-cueing) to decode
words at other times during the school day or during home
reading practice -see link below.
Attention during learning. ''It’s really not fair to him that
adults are teaching him two contradictory things. I teach him
to sound out every word, but Reading Recovery encourages
sounding out only as a last resort, and teaches children to
attempt to read words beyond their decoding level (so of
course the only thing they can do is guess)''
Choosing a specialist reading tutor:
Make sure that the tutor uses a intensive synthetic /
linguistic phonics programme and fully decodable reading
material, as the basis for their teaching. Avoid
any tutor who claims to ''tailor the lessons to a child's individual
learning style'' or uses a programme which includes whole word memorising, multi-cueing (guessing)
strategies or strange procedures such as spelling words backwards or drawing around words to create shapes - see What NOT to do. Don't use a tutor who suggests that, in addition to tutoring, your child's reading difficulties would benefit from glasses with tinted lenses, vision training, balancing exercises or any other unfounded 'dyslexia' therapy....see Room 101
The chosen programme must work rapidly with positive advances
to the child's reading and writing skills being perceptible
to all involved - parent, child and tutor - within a short time. Furthermore, the tutor should, 'Involve the
parent... directly in homework so that she has a positive
role and can maintain gains between sessions and after sessions
have ended.' (D McGuinness WCCR