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Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery is a school-based early literacy intervention designed to accelerate the reading of the lowest attaining 5-6 year olds.

Age group

Preprimary Age,Primary Age

Policy Area

Improving the quality of teaching

People Involved

Teacher and educational specialist


• Accelerate learning so that children reach age appropriate levels of reading and writing
• Develop the strategic mental processes needed to engage in reading and writing
• Encourage children to take control of their learning


The Reading Recovery programme has a history of success since its conception by an educational psychologist in the 1970s and has been the subject of extensive research.

Monitoring evidence in the UK shows consistently high outcomes sustained for more than 20 years.  Children who completed the intervention at age six have been followed through to national assessments at age 11, at which point four out of five were still operating within or above national expectations in reading. 

The target population is the lowest attaining 20% of children between 5-6 years old and sensitive screening programme identifies these children and prioritises them for intervention. The screening tool is a sensitive battery of assessments of very early reading and writing (Clay, 2013) designed to differentiate between children at the very earliest levels of understanding about literacy, e.g. visual discrimination of letter shapes; concepts about print; ability to hear and record sounds to represent letters; ability to retain frequently encountered words in writing and reading (such the child’s own name); and responses to text reading in a gradient of challenge.

The intervention consists of a 20 week course of daily 30 minute lessons with individual children and builds upon intensive teacher professional learning.  Initial university accredited training spreads across one year, interweaving practice in school with regular professional development, during which teachers engage with the theory and practice of literacy development and children’s learning.

The aim of the intervention is to accelerate learning to between three and five times normal progress so that children reach age appropriate levels of reading and writing within 20 weeks. Central to the intervention are two types of learning; children successfully reading familiar texts in order to develop fluency and proficiency, and the use of unfamiliar texts to develop problem solving strategies.

The school-based interventions are usually funded from a school’s own budget.

Project website

Project Materials

Materials: A set of theory and practice manuals, Suitable children’s reading texts, Magnetic letters