Most children learn to write satisfactorily through home support and/or high-quality classroom teaching, but how can we help those children who do not? This blog post provides an overview of two intervention schemes which have been used in the UK to boost the overall writing attainment of lower-achieving pupils in KS1, and have been quantitatively evaluated. The two intervention schemes are Write Away Together and Reading Recovery.

This blog post uses information from the What Works for Literacy website which reviews intervention schemes for children and young people who struggle with reading, spelling, and/or writing. It aims to inform schools’ and other providers’ choices among such schemes and supports the need for clear information in order to make decisions about which approach to adopt for children who experience difficulties in literacy.

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.


So, according to the data, what works for KS1 writing difficulties?


Write Away Together

Write Away Together involves a dialogue between a child and a trained partner about a piece of independent writing. The programme aims to develop writing skills through discussions about independent writing. It links strongly into, and reinforces, Quality First Teaching. Some key aims of the Write Away Together programme are:

  • To help children see themselves as writers
  • To help children see editing as a positive part of the writing/learning process
  • To provide the adult partners with a clear structure for writing support
  • To improve writing at text, sentence and word level
  • To embed strategies that will improve children’s independent writing

The logistics:

  • Children work with a trained adult for 2 x 20-minute sessions per week for a minimum of 10 weeks.
  • The two day training helps adults to use the PRAISE, IMPROVE, PLAN model which underpins the scheme.
  • The adult makes a positive response to children’s writing, using specific praise to highlight what the child does well.
  • The adult helps the pupil to understand which text, sentence and word choices will be appropriate for a particular writing task in order to make the writing more interesting/exciting/clear to the reader.
  • The final part of the lesson looks at specific text features in order to help the child with planning and with continuing the writing independently.
  • The programme has also been developed for use with small groups.
  • The independent writing can come from any curriculum area.

Data provided on 249 children (1:1) showed a remarkable gain:


Reading Recovery

Although Reading Recovery is aimed at children with reading difficulties, it has been shown to have a remarkable impact on writing development. Reading Recovery is aimed at children who show difficulties with reading during their first year of schooling.

The logistics:

  • Children receive daily 30-minute one-to-one lessons for up to 20 weeks from a specially trained teacher.
  • The teacher’s interventions, based on daily diagnoses, are carefully geared to identify and praise successes, and promote confident and independent behaviour.
  • Children leave the programme when reading improves to the level of the average reading group in their class, enabling them to work in class without additional support.
  • Children who are not successfully discontinued are referred for more detailed assessment and specialist help.

The 2005 study demonstrated a remarkable impact on writing:

For more information on effect sizes and ratio gains, please see the What Works for Literacy guidance.