University evaluates Newham’s reading guarantee programme

Research by a university has highlighted the impact of a programme rolled out three years ago in Newham to help primary school children with their reading.

Newham Council launched the Newham Reading Guarantee in 2011 to ensure that no child left school not being able to read or write.

It comprises the use of a structured phonics programme, reading volunteers to help children develop their skill in and enjoyment of reading and one-to-one tuition and support to help children who are behind their peers to catch-up.

When children’s reading abilities were checked through the government’s national Phonics Screening Check it revealed the borough’s schools, on average, exceeded the national average for reading in 2012 and 2013.

Following this, the council brought in Staffordshire University to independently evaluate the programme.


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Staffordshire University researched the one-to-one support element of the programme. While phonics has been evaluated in previous research projects, the funding of one-to-one provision for pupils falling behind in their reading has not been delivered on this scale or evaluated across such a large scale approach in Britain. It is also the first time different approaches to this – ‘catch-up’ and ‘keep-up’ have been compared against each other.

The research highlighted that the council’s universal approach to supporting pupils that fall behind in Year 1 means they make double the expected progress (75 per cent of the pupils who received one to one support caught up to the level expected for their age group).

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Taken together, the findings for Year 1 and Year 2 suggest one-to-one support is most effective when targeted at an early stage of young people demonstrating problems with reading, or where the biggest problems persist and can make a difference to their attainment levels.

Sir Robin Wales Mayor of Newham said: “We’re delighted to work with Staffordshire University to evaluate the impact of the one-to-one support element of the scheme. The findings clearly demonstrate the success of our approach and the massive improvement for those children who were underachieving.

“We’re committed to ensuring all our children can achieve their educational and wider potential and we’re sure that our research can help inform national debate about how best to support young people. “

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