Monday, 9 June 2014

Teaching and learning interventions that have most impact on disadvantaged children and the implications for literacy learning

The SuttonSutton Trust Trust, in conjunction with the Education Empowerment Foundation, has published the Teaching and Learning Toolkit, a valuable analysis of the impact of different types of interventions on children from disadvantaged backgrounds. It hasn’t received much publicity but is well worth reading. Anyone with responsibility for pupil premium funds will find it very useful. I’ve been thinking about the implications for literacy, though it’s relevant all across the curriculum. These strategies are shown to be some of the most effective, with my views about them in relation to reading in brackets:

  • peer tutoring (There have been multiple reports over the years showing the power of paired reading schemes. Here’s yet more evidence about the potential of such approaches.)
  • collaborative learning (I have always been a big fan of collaborative reading. It’s good to see collaboration endorsed so strongly here.)
  • early years intervention (I am not a believer in getting children reading at ridiculously young ages, but we most certainly need to enthuse children about books and reading from when they are tiny.)
  • feedback (Well-considered, positive feedback on reading progress is essential for children to build their self-confidence. Negative feedback can be devastating. I was horrified on one occasion to hear a year 5 boy’s reading choice roundly disparaged with the comment ‘You’re not still reading that rubbish are you?’)
  • one-to-one tuition (One-to-one reading support takes many forms. Beanstalk reading volunteers do transformative work in many schools.)
  • phonics, though this is less effective with older children (The latter finding is very important. It suggests that the emphasis on phonic instruction for struggling readers not only throughout key stage 2 but into key stage 3 as well may be inappropriate.)
  • SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning) (Children’s books are a fantastic way to support social and emotional development, and of course they simultaneously help develop literacy skills and reading enjoyment.)
  • meta-cognition and self-regulation, also known as learning to learn strategies (In relation to reading, this implies a big focus on comprehension, which is crucial for successful reading.)
  • digital technology, though not technology as an end in itself (To give just two examples in the literacy arena, digital reading devices have made a huge difference to vast numbers of struggling readers; the last few years have seen an explosion in terms of exciting reading and writing apps.)