Education Endowment Foundation:Read Write Inc. Phonics

Read Write Inc. Phonics

Ruth Miskin Training
Independent Evaluator
NFER
NFER logo

Testing the impact of a systematic synthetic phonics programme for early readers.

Schools: 72 Grant: £247,650
Participating settings: 72

This project and its evaluation were affected by the 2020 and 2021 partial school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and by subsequent issues with comparison school recruitment. As a result, the evaluation will not be completed as planned. A lessons learned report summarising work completed for this evaluation and the challenges encountered will be published here in Autumn 2022.

Read Write Inc. Phonics is a teaching programme developed by Ruth Miskin. It includes systematic synthetic phonics, reading and applying phonics to decodable books, and skills for writing, including handwriting and compositional writing. This project includes more in-school support than is usually recommended for the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme as it is designed for schools in challenging circumstances. This includes schools in Opportunity Areas and priority areas clustered around Opportunity Areas and with either Ofsted status 3 or 4 or Key Stage 1 reading data that is causing concern.

Fresh Start, the Ruth Miskin Training programme for older children who are struggling to read, has been tested through a previous EEF efficacy trial involving ten secondary schools and 433 Year 7 pupils. The study randomised pupils within each of the schools and focused particularly on pupils who did not achieve a level 4 on their Key Stage 2 SATs. The project found a positive average impact on pupils of an additional three months’ progress over the course of an academic year. Read Write Inc. Phonics uses the same techniques and aims to provide teachers with the knowledge and skills to teach children to read accurately and fluently from Reception onwards. The programme aims to ensure that children keep up with their peers from the beginning to minimise the need for interventions in Key Stage 2.

This project was initially funded by the Department for Education’s Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund, while the evaluation of the project was funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). The project was then funded by the EEF for an additional year beginning in September 2021, following disruption to the evaluation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This study was designed to evaluate the impact of Read Write Inc in TLIF schools through a quasi-experimental design, where a comparison group of similar schools not using Read Write Inc was to be recruited. The evaluation was paused from March 2020 to September 2021 due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and EEF then took the decision to fund an additional year of project delivery starting in September 2021, in the hope of being able to complete the intended impact evaluation. However, despite the efforts of the independent evaluators from the National Foundation for Educational Research, it was not possible to recruit a large enough group of schools that had similar characteristics to the schools receiving the programme. Without a well-matched comparison group, the evaluators would have been unable to make a meaningful assessment of the impact of the programme. The evaluation therefore will not proceed as planned and the evaluators will instead produce a lessons learned’ report.

The lessons learned report will be published in Autumn 2022.