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Reading recovery programme?

(111 Posts)
scortja Fri 12-Sep-14 10:50:28

Has anyone's child been on the reading recovery programme? DS1 was offered a place on it today and I am ashamed to say I cried!

He's 5 and 9 months and a fairly average reader (I thought) - the coordinator went to great lengths to assure me that he 'just needed a little help' but I assume he actually needs A LOT of help if he's been given a place on the programme..

diamondage Fri 12-Sep-14 11:57:51

Firstly do remember he is very young still (I guess year 1 or its equivalent) and he still has plenty of time to more than catch up. It's also completely understandable that you feel upset when this has come out of the blue. Are you happy to share his book band level if you know it as parents of children who were at a similar level at this point/age can likely reassure you too? Also how does he approach reading, does he tend to sound out words methodically, or does he guess quite a lot?

This is a quote from a website regarding Reading Recovery:
Reading Recovery is a well-established intervention scheme for children with reading difficulties. The programme provides daily half-hour sessions with specially trained Reading Recovery teachers for six-year-olds who are in the bottom 20% of their class in terms of reading.

So in a class of 30 this will be the bottom 6, however good at reading the cohort are as a whole. What I mean is, in another school he may well not be in the bottom 20%.

Also are you in the UK? I ask because UK state schools have a statutory duty under the new National Curriculum, to teach children to read using a synthetic phonics programme.

In the past I believe that Reading Recovery did not use any sort of synthetic phonics programme and only used look and say books, however having just had a look I have discovered this information on "Phonics Counts" and if I were you I would be finding out from the school exactly where they think your DS's literacy issues lie and whether or not their Reading Recovery teacher is also aware and trained in Phonics Counts.

I have no idea whether Phonics Counts is a quality synthetic programme, however if you wish for any support regarding phonics then please ask, there are some very experienced teachers here who are only too happy to help!

I should add I'm 'just' a mum, but successfully taught my DD to read (despite rather than because of her school), after much on-line research along with help gained right here.

Fuzzymum1 Fri 12-Sep-14 12:19:11

I delivered a reading recovery program in school for a few years, it doesn't mean your son is struggling, the children who were chosen for it at our school were those who weren't quite making the most of their abilities and were ready for a boost. For the right children it is an amazing opportunity.

scortja Fri 12-Sep-14 13:04:15

Wow! Thank you - that's all really helpful! I have lots to look up this afternoon.. Also you are clearly not 'just' a mum!

This whole thing is out of the blue.. I don't know what his reading level is - red?! I just assumed he'd progress along and if there were concerns they'd let me know.. At the end of last year his teacher said he was average (which isn't really THAT nice to hear - but I know what she meant).. I think I am (was) quite laid back because they still seem so young to me.. I taught myself to read before I went to school so in the back of my mind I have thought that DS would do the same thing at some point

He's at an outstanding school and I think they jump on these things pretty quickly.. However the school has a really high percentage of children whos first language isn't English, and twice the number of pupil premium pupils as most other schools - so I feel like DS must be doing extra bad as he doesn't have these other factors to deal with!

I am off to read about Phonics - and sob quietly..

scortja Fri 12-Sep-14 13:11:51

Oh fuzzymum! That's kind of what I thought at first - I think because the teacher/instructor was avoiding negative words - DS is 'lucky' to have this 'amazing opportunity' etc..

I have to confess that I was always chosen for extra academic work at school to 'extend' me - so it came as a real shock that DS is in remedial reading.. Sob. He'll be fine though - he loves books and I think once he really starts to get it there'll be no stopping him..

nonicknameseemsavailable Fri 12-Sep-14 13:14:46

Try to look at it that they have noticed he isn't doing quite as well at reading as they would expect him to (perhaps verbally he comes across as very bright so they would expect him to have picked it up a bit quicker) and they are going to make sure he gets extra help which can only be a good thing. I am not familiar with reading recovery myself but if you have any questions then do ask the teacher as I am sure they will be happy to help answer them.

Perhaps the children who have english as a second language are expected to take longer to pick it up so as he doesn't have that as a specific reason they think it is worth helping him more now and then if those children don't progress at the rate they would expect of a child with another language then they will get help then so don't try and compare him. All children are very different and at least this way he will get the support he needs and should there be an underlying reason why he is finding it harder it is more likely to be identified quickly and support changed appropriately.

Some children just take longer to get it, some children have just missed a few sounds and not picked them up quite yet for some reason, some children might struggle to hear the sounds clearly to be able to then use them with reading, some turn out to be dyslexic. Lots and lots of factors but my guess would be that they feel he has the potential to pick it up more quickly and therefore with a bit of extra help he will do.

Clutterbugsmum Fri 12-Sep-14 13:28:59

It maybe not that he is average but he may need a little push to the next level.

I know in the school I'm governor at they are now putting in help for those children who are just below the 'top' group as it can be those children in the middle who tend to flounder as they have been receiving no additional help. As the school tend to concentrate on those children who are struggling and giving additional work to those who above average.

TheSparkling Fri 12-Sep-14 13:34:12

I just wanted to encourage you OP. My dd took part in a reading recovery programme when she was in year 1. I knew she was struggling with reading after changing schools but I was upset about it. Anyway the program helped her immensely and she has just left year 6 with a level 6 in her SATS!

Please don't feel it is your fault or that your son is set for a lifetime of problems.

diamondage Fri 12-Sep-14 13:48:27

One other thing that might be worth considering is just checking whether the type of books they are sending home for him to practise reading to you are phonic ones or look and say. Look and say will have words such as dinosaur, or fire engine - even at red level, i.e. they will have words that use code that he hasn't been taught yet.

If you look on the Oxford Owl website you will find lots of free e-books, both phonic and non phonic ones, at all of the different bands. If the school often send non-phonic books you could try getting him to read a phonic one at the same band and see whether he gets on with it. The more he practices sounding words out and using the code (assuming that he knows his basic phonic alphabet) then the easier it will all become.

Your experience of learning to read before school isn't that common (though it's more common on MN of course). Young pre school children that pick up reading very fast usually have extremely good visual memories and can learn to read by being read to, or from memorising stories and matching the words on the pages to the words they remember. It's great when it happens like that, but, assuming no SN, the majority of children, learn gradually, taking about 2 - 3 years from when they start learning to being able to read straightforward children's chapter books.

The likelihood is that in the same time frame you will have a little boy happily reading his school books, with the joy of introducing him to your own childhood favourites. The only thing I would caution you about is if his school are actively teaching him guessing strategies (using pictures, first letters of a word or context). That would concern me greatly as children, for obvious reasons, can find this a huge barrier to decoding print, which, after all, is the first step in understanding it.

mrz Fri 12-Sep-14 18:21:29

I'm afraid Reading Recovery definitely isn't a synthetic phonics programme diamondage far from it. I'm very surprised schools are still using it as an intervention as the recent research coming out of New Zealand (home of Reading Recovery) and Australia say it is "of limited benefit"

flipwit Fri 12-Sep-14 18:32:07

My DM was a reading recovery teacher for years until she retired. Most of her children made amazing progress and caught up quickly.

pyrrah Fri 12-Sep-14 18:40:06

DD's school uses Reading Recovery massively with incredible results. It was until recently what they used with all the children not just those they thought could benefit from some extra help.

Finola1step Fri 12-Sep-14 18:48:33

Reading Recovery? The best school based support money can buy! See it this way OP, your son is vv lucky to be offered 1:1 quality reading and writing tuition.

If you were to pay for something similar with an experienced literacy teacher working as a private tutor, it would cost at least £30 an hour.

So if he is doing RR daily for the whole 20 weeks:


Approx £3000 worth of 1:1 literacy tuition for free, during school time. He is a vv lucky boy.

And don't worry about crying. It shows you care and a teacher is always keen to see that a parent gives a damn.

Mitzi50 Fri 12-Sep-14 18:50:03

Lots of schools in my part of the country are still using Reading Recovery although I am not a particular fan.

However, over the last 10 years the content of the programme has changed "considerably to reflect international research, mainly to include a large amount of phonological awareness and phonics" ("What Works for Children and Young People with Literacy Difficulties": Brooks 2013).

I would ask some questions about when he will receive the intervention - it should definitely be delivered over and above the normal phonics and literacy sessions in school (in some schools the timing of the intervention means they are missing these lessons or other core subjects). I would also ask who will be delivering the intervention and how have they been trained.

If you want to read more about the impact of the intervention, this link will take you to Brooks' evaluation.

mrz Fri 12-Sep-14 19:12:04

They include phonics but essentially it is a mixed methods programme

The findings from a ten year study state

*Data from RR annual monitoring reports and other sources indicate that RR has had little or no impact on reducing New Zealand’s relatively large
literacy achievement gap*

Students who enter RR with relatively high scores on the assessment measures of RR are much more likely to benefit from RR than students with relatively low scores. This finding adds to the evidence that RR generally does not work well for students who are most at risk for failing to learn to read.

Finally, research indicates that positive maintenance effects for the majority of successfully discontinued RR students are modest or non-existent.

It's an expensive failure!

InfantSchoolHead Fri 12-Sep-14 19:25:35

I agree totally with Finola1step - this is an amazing opportunity for your son, and one that he will never get again at this level of intensity. You will be amazed at the speed at which he progresses through the levels.

I would treat the 'be wary because it's not synthetic phonics based' argument with a very large pinch of salt. Firstly, although phonics works for the majority of children, it doesn't suit everyone. If learning to read were that simple then it wouldn't have taken us until 2014 to find out. It's worth remembering that your DS has presumably had a year of high quality phonics teaching, and is still struggling, so another method might be what he needs. I am very pro-phonics, but not at the expense of everything else - it's simply not that simple!

Reading Recovery teachers spend a year training to deliver the programme and quite honestly, I think any child who is given the opportunity to take part is incredibly lucky. Grab it with both hands and you won't believe how quickly he will fly!

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 12-Sep-14 20:30:10

It's worth remembering that your DS has presumably had a year of high quality phonics teaching


I think the odds are probably stacked against this being the case.

RR is only shown in studies by people responsible for implementing it, and compared to no intervention. They refuse to allow it to be used by other people in studies, particularly if it is to compared with another intervention.If this was anything other than education research, that would be a fairly large red flag.

The fact that it's aimed at the bottom 20% of any cohort regardless of ability or specific issues should be enough to put anyone off.

InfantSchoolHead Fri 12-Sep-14 20:52:54

I can't believe that a child who is clearly in need of support and has been offered 30 minutes of reading tuition a day is having this provision put down by people who clearly aren't reading recovery trained professionals.

For the skeptics amongst your -whether you believe that the method behind RR is right or wrong, do you not think that any child receiving 30 minutes of 1:1 intensive reading tuition a day would not make significant progress over 12 or more weeks? The school has clearly chosen to invest in RR this year and a place has been offered - what an opportunity!

As far as the high quality phonics teaching comment is concerned - well if it hasn't happened in Reception, then it's not going to happen in Y1 either is it?!

The proof will be in the pudding. scortja - we'd love to hear from you when your DS has finished the programme to hear your thoughts.

barefootcook Fri 12-Sep-14 20:58:28

My SIL is a Reading Recovery teacher. At her school they select students who have the best chance of achieving the target.This means that they will end up being in the middle of the class (in terms of reading ) once they finish the course. They need supportive families as the parents are required to do a lot of work at home on top of regular homework. It is very successful for intelligent students who have not quite clicked with reading. At SIL's school there are a number of weak students who do not get offered a place.

InfantSchoolHead Fri 12-Sep-14 21:13:58

The children for RR are chosen according to both their current level of reading and their age. Young Y1 children could be too young at this point in the year to take part, but if their reading is still a concern later in the year they could be offered a place once this first cohort have finished. The thinking behind this is that all children need to be enabled to mature to the same level before they are put on the programme. My son wasn't reading well at the start of Y1, but he was a prem end of August boy and just needed time to mature.

Past attendance also plays a part in deciding on which children to put on the programme, because allocating 30 minutes of teacher time per day per child is expensive, and obviously not a good use of money if the child isn't at school.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 12-Sep-14 21:34:01

Infant I believe thy would make more progress with other interventions for less money. RR is far from being cheap.

If it doesn't work on the weakest readers, and only works on intelligent students with supportive parents who are required to do a lot of extra work then it isn't much good. Although I have to say that isn't my experience of it but practice may differ in the US.

I do agree that any school that isn't providing good phonics provision in YrR won't be providing it in Yr1. But it's a bad idea to presume that a struggling reader has had high quality phonics teaching, it's very rarely the case that they have. Especially if the school is using reading recovery.

That's assuming that the OP's child is struggling, which it isn't clear that he is

InfantSchoolHead Fri 12-Sep-14 22:05:46

RafaIsTheKingOfClay If a child's teacher isn't concerned about a child's current reading level, s/he would not have been selected. As you say, this is an expensive provision and is not used on children who don't need it.

You may believe that he would make more progress with other interventions, but A. you don't know this and B. I doubt that the OP was offered a choice of interventions from which to choose! No-one has claimed RR is cheap.

RR only works on intelligent students - nonsense! I have seen very average and below average children thrive on RR and make tremendous progress. Parents are required to do some work at home, but it's not exactly a heavy workload - reading a book and putting a cut-up sentence in order doesn't take long. Parents are spoken to prior to the programme about their willingness to support at home, but the success of the programme isn't dependent on this aspect and schools often find other way around this so as not to disadvantage the child.

To suggest that a RR school would be more likely to be teaching sub-quality phonics is nonsense! They may or may not be, but would be no more or less likely to be doing that than any other school. What it could suggest is that this is a school that is looking for ways to cater for all learning styles and appreciates that some children do benefit from what is costly but very effective tuition.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 12-Sep-14 23:16:35

You've selectively quoted my sentence there. I don't believe that it only works on intelligent children at all. I was referring to a previous poster's comments about the provision in her SIL's school.

WRT not being selected if he wasn't struggling, the children chosen are the bottom 20% in a particular cohort. Which means that the children eligible can vary widely in ability. Since they complete RR when they can read at the average level for their class, not age level expectations, it can lead to some very interesting comparisons between school districts. Especially between well off and not so well off ones.

Based on the fact that his last teacher has described his reading as average and the OP hadn't noticed any issues he may not be struggling as much as she now believes he is.

mrz Sat 13-Sep-14 07:09:57

InfantSchoolHead Sat 13-Sep-14 09:01:34

mrz, The study you quoted suggests that New Zealand has used Reading Recovery as the main assessment & intervention strategy for many years, at the expense of teaching a systematic phonics programme. Whilst I believe that Reading Recovery is effective for some children, I would never advocate it as the only method for identifying and teaching struggling readers. It's actually frightening to think that a nation's literacy strategy could be based on such a premise.

Two of the the recommendations from the report state exactly these points;

Using explicit teaching of phonological awareness and letter-sound patterns for children with limited reading-related skills when they start school

Using different strategies for different children – “a more inclusive approach to literacy teaching that responds to the diverse literacy learning needs of all children

For a certain group of children who haven't got to grips with phonics despite high quality teaching, I have seen RR work with dramatic effect. I have also seen other interventions work very effectively as well, but at the end of the day a parent will trust the school to make an informed choice about what is the best intervention for their child at any one time. I am a strong advocate for high quality phonics instruction for all children, but I haven't been brainwashed into believing that this in the only way because it clearly isn't.

Learning to read is a complex craft and if there really was one fail safe method then it would have been discovered long ago, and this debate (in the wider sense) would not still be going on. But there isn't a fail safe way, and the debate will go on - and that's what makes teaching reading so interesting and rewarding.

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