Funding cuts see 9,000 fewer pupils on Reading Recovery

Written by: HTU | Published:

More than 9,000 fewer pupils were put on the Reading Recovery programme last year, despite evidence showing the long-lasting impact the scheme is having.

More than 9,000 fewer pupils were put on the Reading Recovery programme last year, despite evidence showing the long-lasting impact the scheme is having.

Reading Recovery was set up in 2007 and is a short-term programme for children who have the lowest achievement in literacy learning after one year at school.

A monitoring report has found that almost 80 per cent of pupils on the programme go on to achieve Level 4 in reading at the end of primary school.

However, changes in government funding arrangements across England have led to a significant drop in pupils being placed on the scheme. In 2010/11 more than 21,000 pupils benefited, but this figure dropped to 11,900 in 2011/12.

The monitoring study was carried out by the European Centre for Reading Recovery at the Institute of Education (IoE) in London.

Reading Recovery in England has historically been supported through the Every Child a Reader programme, but many schools cited changes in funding mechanisms as the main reason for not continuing to offer the programme.

An IoE spokeswoman said: “The most frequent reason given to us for schools ceasing to offer Reading Recovery was funding. Previously schools with high levels of need were offered a grant which enabled them to train a Reading Recovery teacher and to release that teacher to work with individual children and to support wider interventions through Every Child a Reader. With the removal of ring-fencing, those funds are now distributed among all schools."

Reading Recovery was developed in the 1970s by New Zealand educator Dr Marie Clay. It is now used world-wide. Children are taught individually for 30 minutes each day, for an average of between 15 to 20 weeks, by a specially trained teacher.Children are selected for the programme because they would not otherwise be expected to reach Level 3 by age 11.

The monitoring report found that pupils aged 11 who had received Reading Recovery at age six have matched their classmates' progress for the following six years.

It tracked more than 370 children who completed daily one-to-one lessons with a specially trained teacher. A total of 78 per cent attained national curriculum Level 4 in reading and 67 per cent in writing. Only six of the pupils failed to achieve a Level 3 in reading while only one failed to reach this mark in writing.

Julia Douetil, head of the European Centre for Reading Recovery, said: “Schools have made huge improvements in literacy for most children. But the statistic of seven per cent, or 30,000 children every year, failing to reach national curriculum Level 3 at age 11 has been stubbornly resistant to change. We now have proof that, with the resources and the will to make it happen, Reading Recovery can lift that blight from their young shoulders."

The scheme was also found to have a significant impact on disadvantaged children. More than 81 per cent reached age-related expectations for literacy, compared with 83 per cent of their more advantaged peers. At key stage 2, the gap between children entitled to free school meals and their peers had reduced to four percentage points in reading, and no longer existed in writing, researchers found.

The IoE spokeswoman added: “While we are deeply saddened that fewer children were able to benefit from Reading Recovery in 2012, it will continue to be available to schools, and we are working hard to ensure that schools get the best possible value from their investment in a Reading Recovery teacher, through the strategic management of a wider range of literacy interventions."

You can read the full report at

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