Talk for Literacy: Evaluation Report and Executive Summary

Ben Styles and Sally Bradshaw

18 February 2015

This NFER report has been produced for the Education Endowment Foundation and its evaluation of a speaking and listening intervention combining two programmes: the Vocabulary Enrichment Intervention Programme (VEIP) and the Narrative Intervention Programme (NIP). The intervention was used with pupils who needed extra support to improve their literacy (either not having reached Level 4 at Key Stage 2 or considered ‘vulnerable’ Level 4 readers). The aim was to enhance pupils’ literacy by improving their vocabulary and narrative skills.

Five Teaching Assistants (TAs) and one teacher in three secondary schools received training on the VEIP, the NIP and speech, language and communication difficulties. They delivered the VEIP to 118 Year 7 pupils in small groups (three to eight pupils) between September 2013 and December 2013, and the NIP between January 2014 and March 2014.

The programme was evaluated using a randomised controlled trial which compared the intervention to a ‘business-as-usual’ control group. The delivery and evaluation of this project was funded by the Education Endowment Foundation as one of 23 projects focused on literacy catch-up at the transition from primary to secondary school. It was one of four projects funded with a particular focus on reading comprehension.

Key Findings

  • The speaking and listening intervention had a moderate impact on overall reading ability but this was not statistically significant (although was on the border of being so)
  • The intervention had a significant impact on pupils’ ability in passage comprehension; an effect size of 0.25, equivalent to approximately 3 months of additional progress compared to control pupils.
  • The intervention had no significant impact on pupils’ ability to complete written sentences or accurately recall spoken sentences.