Education Endowment Foundation:Catch Up Literacy (re-grant)

Catch Up Literacy (re-grant)

Catch Up
Implementation costThe cost estimates in the Toolkits are based on the average cost of delivering the intervention.
Evidence strengthThis rating provides an overall estimate of the robustness of the evidence, to help support professional decision-making in schools.
Impact (months)The impact measure shows the number of additional months of progress made, on average, by children and young people who received the intervention, compared to similar children and young people who did not.
Project info

Independent Evaluator

NFER logo
Testing a one-to-one tailored support for Key Stage 2 pupils struggling with literacy
Pupils: 1388 Schools: 156 Grant: £518,547
Key Stage: 2 Duration: 10 month(s) Type of Trial: Effectiveness Trial
Completed July 2017

This page covers the second (effectiveness) trial of Catch Up Literacy, testing a scalable model under everyday conditions in a large number of schools. To read about the first (efficacy) trial – testing whether it could work in schools under best possible conditions – click here.

Catch Up® Literacy is a one-to-one intervention for struggling readers. It is delivered by Teaching Assistants and consists of two 15-minute sessions per week. 

There is evidence that Teaching Assistants are more likely to have a positive impact when delivering structured interventions than as general classroom support. The EEF funded Catch Up® Literacy because it is a structured intervention that is widely used in schools.

EEF tested whether the programme could have a positive impact on readers during the transition between primary and secondary school. The programme was delivered by its original developers and the pupils involved made two months additional progress in comparison to pupils receiving standard provision. There was also a positive impact on pupils’ enjoyment of writing and the job satisfaction of teaching assistants

Based on this, the EEF then evaluated a revised model of the programme, which was designed to be delivered to a larger number of schools at the same time, and which was aimed at pupils in years 4 and 5, rather than pupils moving from primary to secondary school. This second study found no evidence that Catch Up® Literacy had an impact on pupils’ reading comprehension outcomes when compared to business as usual’ teaching practice. The less promising result may be due to the changes introduced to programme after the first evaluation

There is mixed evidence across the two trials of Catch Up Literacy. Due to the lack of impact in the second trial, the EEF will be removing Catch Up Literacy from the list of promising projects. There remains strong evidence that one-to-one tuition is an effective way of improving literacy attainment, and the EEF continues to be interested in TA-led structured interventions

  1. The project found no evidence that Catch Up® Literacy improves reading comprehension for children in Years 4 and 5 compared to usual teaching practice.
  2. Pupils that have ever been eligible for free school meals made two months additional progress compared to similar pupils in control schools. This result is not statistically significant. This means that the statistical evidence does not meet the threshold set by the evaluator to conclude that the true impact was not zero.
  3. The intervention was not always delivered as intended. Some schools struggled to resource two one-to-one sessions per week, while in other schools TAs adapted how they delivered individual sessions from what they were taught in the training.
ImpactThe size of the difference between pupils in this trial and other pupils
SecurityHow confident are we in this result?
Reading comprehension
Months' progress
Reading comprehension (everFSM)
Months' progress