Catch Up Literacy (Effectiveness Trial)

Catch Up Literacy is a structured one-to-one literacy intervention for pupils between the ages of 6 and 14 who are struggling to learn to read. It teaches pupils to blend phonemes (combine letter sounds into words), segment phonemes (separate words into letter sounds), and memorise particular words so they can be understood without needing to use phonics strategies to decode them. The intervention matches books to pupils according to their reading ability, which pupils then read to a teaching assistant (TA), so is also intended to support the development of their comprehension skills.

Why are we funding it?

Catch Up Literacy was funded in 85 schools through the EEF’s themed literacy catch-up round in 2012. The constraints of the funding meant it took place after Key Stage 2 tests in Year 6 and continued to be delivered in the secondary schools that pupils transitioned to. The trial showed that children receiving Catch Up Literacy made an additional two months’ progress compared to pupils receiving ‘business-as-usual’ classroom teaching. The trial was very robust, receiving an evidence strength rating of four padlocks. This project will now test the intervention in more schools and further explore some of the questions identified through the previous trial.

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?

NFER has been appointed as the evaluator. 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 170 primary schools and to randomly allocate the pupils eligible for the intervention within each school to either receive Catch Up Literacy or to act as a ‘Business as Usual’ control – receiving whatever support the schools would have provided for them anyway. The impact of the intervention on both a standardised reading test and Key Stage 2 SATs will be considered. The process evaluation will seek to assess TAs’ fidelity to the programme. 

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Spring 2018.