Literacy and Numeracy Catch-Up Strategies

Literacy and Numeracy Catch-Up Strategies

“There are a variety of different approaches available to support low-attaining year 7 pupils to catch up in literacy, with robust evidence to show if they work or not.

Writing interventions appear to show consistently good results. In particular, where trips are used as topics for pupils to write about. Reading comprehension interventions generally have a positive effect on pupils’ attitudes towards reading; computer-based interventions appear effective, and some one-to-one methods have substantial positive results on pupils’ literacy progress.

There is however inconsistent evidence around how effective phonics approaches, summer and Saturday schools, and blended interventions are as a catch-up strategy for low-attaining year 7 pupils. Some of the inconsistency is down to limitations in the research methods used when trialing these interventions, so more research would help to clarify if these approaches work. It should however be noted that phonics has been consistently shown as an effective approach for younger readers (aged 4 – 7).

However, much less is known about what works to support low-attaining year 7 pupils catch up with their peers in numeracy.

The few numeracy interventions which have been trialled with year 7 pupils have not proven to be effective. Nevertheless, there is promising evidence from interventions trialled at primary schools which could be applicable to older low-attaining pupils, including one-to-one and group programmes.

A number of the interventions summarised are intended specifically for disadvantaged pupils, including numeracy approaches such as Tutor Trust, and literacy interventions such as Paired Reading and RM Books. Other interventions described in this summary may be appropriate for disadvantaged pupils, however these were the only interventions reviewed here that were targeted at this specific group.

There is evidence to show that transition from primary to secondary school is a time where progress for some pupils can be below what would be expected. It therefore follows that a smooth transition should help facilitate pupils to catch up with their peers. Key principles which appear to facilitate the transition from primary to secondary school include: maintain collaboration before and after transfer; facilitate effective communication; prioritise and invest in school visits and induction programmes; develop practices for particular types of pupils; ensure schools have clear roles and responsibilities that are supported by senior management, and; evaluate what works and disseminate good practice.”

To read the rest of the Department for Education paper, please click here.