Evaluation of Catch Up® Literacy

What is Catch Up® Literacy?

Catch Up® Literacy is a structured one-to-one literacy intervention, developed by Catch Up® (a not-for-profit UK registered charity), for learners from the age of six to fourteen years who are struggling with literacy, delivered by trained Teaching Assistants.

Catch Up® Literacy teaches pupils to blend phonemes (combine letter sounds into words), segment phonemes (separate words into letter sounds), and memorise particular words so they can be understood without needing to use phonics strategies to decode them. The intervention matches books to pupils according to their reading ability, which pupils then read to a Teaching Assistant, supporting the development of their comprehension skills.

What are the purposes and aims of the trial?

A previous evaluation of Catch Up® Literacy suggested that pupils who received the intervention made more progress with their literacy skills (which were estimated using the New Group Reading Test) than pupils that did not. Catch Up® pupils, on average, improved their literacy outcomes by two months compared with the control group but the results did not reach statistical significance. The purpose of this study is to run a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the impact of Catch Up® Literacy on pupils’ reading ability as measured by Hodder Group Reading Tests and the Salford Sentence Reading Test. It will also explore the effect of the intervention on pupils’ attitudes to school, and their confidence in and enjoyment of literacy.

What will the research involve for all schools?

Participating schools will be asked to complete a pro-forma. This will ask for a list of Teaching Assistants (TAs) who will deliver Catch Up® Literacy to the pupils (if the school is randomly assigned to receive the intervention) and a list eligible pupils from Year 4 and Year 5 who are nominated to receive support. It will also include a section to outline what support these pupils will get if they are not allocated to receive Catch Up® Literacy support – the ‘business as usual’ control group. An opt-out parental consent form will be provided which gives the parents an opportunity to withdraw their child from the data collection exercise.

Early September 2016, Research Assistants from the University of Oxford will visit each school, in accordance with a pre-arranged timetable, and administer the Salford Sentence Reading Test (SSRT) individually with each participating pupil. Schools will then be randomly allocated to either the ‘business as usual control group’ or the Catch Up® Literacy intervention group.

At the end of each term, all schools will be asked to provide an update on the participation of the project pupils in the school. When the intervention and monitoring period finishes in the middle of June, NFER test administrators will visit each school on a pre-agreed date in June/July and administer the Hodder Group Reading Test (HGRT) and a short attitudinal survey for all participating pupils. After this, research assistants from the University of Oxford will re-visit and administer the individual Salford Sentence Reading Test. Schools will receive results from these tests at the end of the evaluation.

What will happen with schools in the control group?

Schools allocated to the control group will not deliver Catch Up® Literacy. They will be asked to continue as usual, delivering any other programmes they would normally run. Control schools will need to take part in the research activities for all schools described above.

What will the intervention involve?

Schools allocated to the intervention group will take part in Catch Up® Literacy. Key staff will attend and undertake Catch Up® Literacy training. The Catch Up® Literacy trained TAs will then work with the participating pupils delivering two 15 minute, one-to-one Catch Up® Literacy support sessions per week for up to three terms, with termly reviews. The sessions will continue until the pupil has caught up, or until 16 June 2017.

How will schools benefit from taking part?

We hope that pupils in schools across the country will benefit from this research. It will strengthen the already existing evidence on one-to-one literacy support given to pupils. As a thank you, schools allocated to the Catch Up® group will receive Catch Up® Literacy training and support, which aims to improve children’s literacy. Schools allocated to the control group will receive a grant of £790 in Summer 2017 once they have returned their end of year log and when nominated pupils have been assessed. Although this is equivalent to the two fully funded Catch Up® training places, schools can choose how to use the grant.

How will NFER use and protect the data collected from schools?

The information collected during the trial will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act, and will be treated in the strictest confidence by NFER and Catch Up®. NFER will match school and pupil data with the Department for Education's (DfE) National Pupil Database (NPD) and will share these data with the research team, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), EEF’s data processor the Fischer Family Trust (FFT) and, once anonymised, will store the data in the UK Data Archive for research purposes only. No individual school, pupil or teacher will be identified in any report arising from the trial.

How will the findings be used?

The overall findings from this research will be included in a publicly available report used to influence practice nationally.

Who can you contact for more information?

If you have any questions or queries, please contact NFER by phone on 01753 637338 or by email literacyresearch@nfer.ac.uk. You can also contact Graham Sigley, Deputy Director, Catch Up®, who is very happy to answer any questions you might have. Please contact him by e-mail graham.sigley@catchup.orgor telephone the Catch Up® office on 01842 752297.

Read the full privacy notice for this project here.

Read the report Read the article