Read Write Inc. Phonics and Fresh Start

Read Write Inc. Phonics teaches young children to read and write, through a structured and systematic approach to teaching literacy. It is used by more than a quarter of the UK's primary schools. Fresh Start is a catch up programme for those children that are still learning to read at the end of primary and the start of secondary. The reading materials used in Fresh Start are age-appropriate.

Both programmes start with the systematic teaching of phonics, carefully matching the sounds that children have been taught with books that contain only those sounds. The programmes move on to improving reading fluency and comprehension.

Schools receive two whole-school training days, with the training covering the principles and teaching techniques required to teach both Read Write Inc. Phonics and Fresh Start. In addition schools receive between three to six developmental days per year, depending on their starting point for teaching reading within the school. Schools are encouraged to run sessions for parents, these teach parents the sounds that children will be learning and shows them how to use the books that children take home.

Read Write Inc. Phonics and Fresh Start

Queen's University Belfast, Ruth Miskin Training

Testing the impact of a systematic and rigorous phonics programme on early readers and also those that have fallen behind at the end of Key Stage 2.

Progress: 80%
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Why are we funding it?

Fresh Start has been tested through a previous EEF efficacy trial involving ten secondary schools and 433 Year 7 pupils. The study randomised pupils within each of the schools and focused particularly on pupils who did not achieve a level 4 on their Key Stage 2 SATs. The project found a positive impact on all pupils of an additional three months’ progress over the course of an academic year. Read, Write Inc. Phonics uses identical techniques with younger children with the aim of preventing reading difficulties so that later interventions aren’t required or so that the number of children who need them is minimised.

Primary schools in the North East will be encouraged to take part in this trial as part of our North East Primary Literacy Campaign, co-funded with the Northern Rock Foundation. Read more about the campaign here.

How are we evaluating it?

The American Institutes of Research have been appointed as the evaluation team. It will be an effectiveness study. Effectiveness trials aim to test whether an intervention can work at scale in a large number of schools.

The proposal is to recruit around 120 primary schools and to randomly allocate 60 to receive Read Write Inc. Phonics and Fresh Start. The other 60 schools will act as a business as usual control group, continuing with their normal teaching of reading and support for struggling readers and receiving a financial incentive for taking part in the project.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in 2023. It will be published alongside a second EEFstudy of the Read Write Inc. Phonicsprogramme, funded as part of the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund (TLIF). This study is designed to evaluate the impact of the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme on pupils’ KS1 phonics outcomes.

The EEF made a commitment to publish these two studies together, to provide schools with the most useful and consistent messages around the findings. Due to Covid-19 disruptions, the TLIF study will be completed in the 2021/22 school year. This means the findings from both studies will be published together in 2023. The EEF believes this approach will better support schools’interpretations of the findings.