The REAL programme (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy) is an intervention that works with practitioners (usually in the early years) to support children’s early literacy development. The programme aims to help practitioners to build parents’ knowledge and confidence in creating a home learning environment that supports and encourages children’s reading, writing and oral language. The programme evaluated in this trial used REAL approaches including home visits, group literacy events and the ORIM Framework, which supports parents to: create Opportunities for literacy learning; Recognise and value small steps; Interact in positive ways; and make a point of being a Model of a literacy user.
Education Endowment Foundation:The REAL Programme
The REAL Programme
Testing a home-visiting programme focused on literacy, delivered by nursery teachers
This project was funded as part of the Home Learning Environment Round, where EEF partnered with the Department for Education and Leeds-based education charity SHINE to test projects that support parents to help improve their children’s learning and development before they start school.
This project and its evaluation were affected by the 2020 and 2021 partial school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, we were no longer able to deliver assessments in order to estimate the impact of the programme on pupil attainment. The final report instead focuses on the implementation and process evaluation activities undertaken as part of the project.
The REAL Programme was very well received by practitioners, however fidelity in the implementation was not very high, both in terms of dosage (the number of home visits delivered during the intervention) and quality. Key benefits of the intervention as perceived by practitioners were their improved knowledge of early literacy development, improved knowledge of how to work with families, greater understanding of child
The evidence of positive outcomes for parents and children was less consistent – there was no evidence from the parent surveys that home learning environment in the treatment group improved over the course of the programme. However it should be noted that remote delivery made it more difficult for practitioners to build relationships with parents and engage harder-to-reach families.
The EEF is discussing next steps for a potential further evaluation of The REAL Programme.
- There were 53 school-based nursery settings involved in the trial
- The intervention was targeted at children who were three years old and had been identified as having a potential need for additional support in early literacy
- Practitioners were originally required to conduct eight to ten home visits per family over the course of the intervention, each lasting 30 – 60 minutes. However, due to the impact of Covid-19, it was only possible to hold two in-person home visits before a six-month pause to delivery.
- Home visits following the delivery pause were delivered remotely.
- In the original intervention design, practitioners were also expected to arrange up to four group literacy events, open to the parents of children in the treatment group, however due to social distancing guidance these events did not take place
Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the collection of data on the cost of the programme was also cancelled to avoid overburdening schools.