REACH is a targeted reading support programme designed to improve reading accuracy and comprehension in pupils with reading difficulties in Years 7 and 8. It is based on research by the Centre for Reading and Language at York and is delivered by specially trained teaching assistants (TAs). This evaluation tested two REACH interventions, one based directly on the original ‘Reading Intervention’ developed by York, and one adapted from it with supplementary material on language comprehension. In both versions, pupils received three one to one 35 minute sessions each week for 20 weeks. Pupils were taken out of other lessons (typically not English lessons) for the sessions and so this evaluation assesses the effect of the interventions combined with more time focused on literacy, compared with standard provision.
The impact of the interventions on the reading skills of 287 pupils in 27 schools was tested using a randomised controlled trial. Schools in areas close to Leeds were recruited to the trial in 2013. Pupils identified as having relatively poor reading skills were randomly allocated to the original REACH reading intervention, the language comprehension version, or standard provision. In response to slow initial recruitment, the trial was implemented in two phases. A process evaluation was carried out involving a survey of teaching assistants and interviews with staff from participating schools.