A new study has revealed that some 81 per cent of formerly illiterate five and six-year-old pupils were able to reach the same level as their peers after taking part in the Reading Recovery programme.
The highly successful scheme facilitates daily one-to-one lessons between a child and a trained Special Education Needs (SEN) teacher.
Working with an SEN teacher, children taking part in the scheme progressed at almost five times the rate of average pupils, achieving two-years in reading age with just five months of teaching, according to the 2010-11 annual national monitoring report from the European Centre for Reading Recovery.
The impressive success rate was achieved as the scheme itself expanded by more than one-third, with 24,000 children taking part in the programme in the 2010-11 cohort, compared to 17,500 in 2009-10.
However, the study also revealed that the number of children not completing the course almost tripled, with the number of incomplete programmes rising from 3.6 per cent in 2010 to ten per cent in 2011.
In many cases this was because Reading Recovery was not extended beyond the end of the 2010-11 school year, but some schools said that funding issues meant they could not extend the programme into the new financial year in April.
"These are difficult times but our most vulnerable children should not pay the price. The country will not achieve long term economic growth with children who cannot read," said Julia Douetil, head of the European Centre for Reading Recovery.
"Schools have difficult decisions to make about scarce resources, but if we are not teaching all our children to read, what are we spending money on that matters more?"
The report found that as a result of the early intervention, more than 2,300 children were able to be withdrawn from the SEN register, while the need for formal assessment in almost 150 pupils was recognised earlier than usual.
Furthermore, during Key Stage One National Assessments, more than four in five children whose progress accelerated through the Reading Recover programme went on to achieve level two or higher.
Posted by Alan Douglas