November 2020 sees the publication of the 6th edition of ‘What Works For Literacy Difficulties?’ (Lavan & Talcott, 2020). The 5th edition was published in 2016, and proved an invaluable resource for teaching staff around the UK. The full PDF and accompanying website can be accessed at The School Psychology Service, here.

Purpose of the resource

What Works for Literacy Difficulties?

Most children learn to read and write satisfactorily first time through home support and/or high-quality classroom teaching, but what of those children who haven’t? How are they to be helped? According to the Department for Education, in 2019 73% of pupils in England reached the expected standard in reading at the end of Key Stage
2 (KS2) – down by 2 percentage points from 2018 – meaning that 27% of those pupils left Primary education below the expected standard in reading (DfE, 2019). In Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling (GPS), 78% of pupils reached the expected standard, meaning 22% did not.

The intention of this book is to examine the effects of targeted school-based interventions on the development of reading, spelling and writing. Like the previous editions (see the publishing history, p.9), this 6th Edition provides information on intervention schemes for children and young people who struggle with reading, spelling, and/or writing. This book reviews intervention schemes that have been devised to help struggling readers and writers, and is intended to inform schools’ and other providers’ choices among such schemes. There is an obvious need for schools to have clear information, in order to make principled decisions about which approach to adopt for children who experience difficulties in literacy.

More exactly, this book addresses the following two questions:
1) What intervention schemes are there which have been used in the UK in an attempt to boost the reading, spelling or overall writing attainment of lower-achieving pupils between the ages of 5 and 18, and have been
quantitatively evaluated here?

2) What are those schemes like, and how effective are they?
The restriction to schemes used and evaluated in the UK is partly intended to avoid a deluge of information on schemes used elsewhere in the world, but mainly to circumvent the objection, ‘How do we know that it will work here?’ (However, for reviews taking in some evidence from other English-speaking countries, especially the
United States, see Slavin et al., 2008, 2009, 2011).

The intention is to make clear and analytic information on such schemes available in
order to inform practice and choices of approach. Those choices should be guided not only by the evidence assembled and analysed here, but also by careful matching of the needs of an individual school, class or
child to the specifics of particular schemes.

Download the full report for free here

Lavan, G. & Talcott, J. B. (2020). Brooks’s What Works for Literacy Difficulties? The Effectiveness of Intervention Schemes. 6th edition. Wolverhampton: The School Psychology Service Ltd.

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