Read, Write, Inc and Fresh Start
Testing the impact of a systematic and rigorous phonics programme on early readers and also those that have fallen behind at the end of Key Stage 2.
Read Write Inc. Phonics teaches young children to read and write, through a structured and systematic approach to teaching literacy. It is used by more than a quarter of the UK’s primary schools. Fresh start is a similar programme, but is a catch up programme for those children that are stuggling to read at the end of primary and the start of secondary. The reading materials used in Fresh Start are age-appropriate and older children do not feel they are reading books designed for much younger children.
Both programmes start with the systematic teaching of phonemes and graphemes, carefully matching the sounds that children have been taught with books that contain only those sounds. The programmes then move on to improving reading fluency and comprehension.
Schools receive two whole-school training days, with the training covering the principles and teaching techniques required to teach both RWI and FS. In addition schools get between three to six developmental days per year, depending on their starting point for teaching reading within the school. Schools are encouraged to run sessions for parents, these teach parents the sounds that children will be learning and shows them how to use the books that children take home.
Why are we funding it?
FS has been tested through a previous EEF efficacy trial involving ten secondary schools and 433 Year 7 pupils. The study randomised pupils within each of the schools and focused particularly on pupils who did not achieve a level 4 on their Key Stage 2 SATs. The project found a positive impact on all pupils of an additional three months’ progress over the course of an academic year. RWI uses identical techniques with younger children with the aim of preventing reading difficulties so that later interventions aren’t required or so that the number of children who need them is minimised.
Primary schools in the North East will be encouraged to take part in this trial as part of our North East Primary Literacy Campaign, co-funded with the Northern Rock Foundation. Read more about the campaign here.
How are we evaluating it?
The American Institutes of Research have been appointed as the evaluation team. It will be an effectiveness study. Effectiveness trials aim to test whether an intervention can work at scale in a large number of schools.
The proposal is to recruit around 120 primary schools and to randomly allocate 60 to receive Read Write Inc Phonics and Fresh Start. The other 60 schools will act as a business as usual control group, continuing with their normal teaching of reading and support for struggling readers and receiving a financial incentive for taking part in the project.
When will the evaluation report be due?
The evaluation report will be published in Spring 2018.