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New literacy programme to be trialled by 200 English schools

26/06/2017 Joanna

A promising new literacy programme for primary school pupils is to be trialled with support from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) over the coming months.

The literacy intervention project is called Abracadabra and is a 20-week intervention designed to develop literacy skills in Year 1 pupils aged five and six years old.

Under this scheme, teaching assistants are trained to deliver 15-minute sessions to small groups of pupils four times per week, with lessons designed around texts deemed suitable for early readers, and teaching focused on phonics, reading fluency and comprehension.

Two different versions of the programme will be assessed, with the first seeing pupils using an online platform to cover the content, while the second will be offline-only and will instead utilise resources such as magnetic letters and cards.

An EEF grant of £658,255 has been allocated to allow the programme to be tested in 200 English primary schools, with 9,000 Year 1 pupils set to be involved. The York Trials Unit will oversee the study, and will be looking to determine whether this intervention can produce positive results comparable to those from an earlier, smaller-scale study.

In this preliminary trial, both versions of Abracadabra were shown to have a positive impact on pupils' literacy results, although students taking part in the offline intervention achieved slightly more progress than those who used the online platform. Moreover, the impact for children eligible for free school meals and those with below-average pre-test outcomes was generally greater than average.

Coventry University and Nottingham Trent University are responsible for developing and leading the project, with an evaluation report scheduled to be published in autumn 2019.

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