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18th June 2024 - Catch Up® Literacy and the Revised Reading Framework

Got your head round the Revised Reading Framework yet? (DfE 2023). The content is non-statutory but it’s got lots of practical advice about strategies for teaching reading. It’s an update of the 2021 version which mainly referred to Key Stage 1 and which focussed on 3 things:

  • developing pupils’ spoken language – a particular priority after the disruption of face-to-face teaching caused by Covid

  • the importance of reading aloud to pupils to immerse them in the language of books

  • endorsing the principle of teaching reading using Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP)

Also included in the Reading Framework are a number of audit proformas to help review provision and practice which I’m sure many schools have found useful (particularly if a visit from Ofsted is on the cards!)

The Revised Reading Framework

This newer document (also non-statutory) extends the scope of the earlier document and includes strategies for teaching reading to older pupils (up to Year 9) who need the most support to develop fluency in reading. Reading for pleasure and promoting books are a priority in this new document and there is a heavy emphasis on schools continuing to use SSP as the method of teaching older pupils who struggle with reading.

Catch Up® Literacy and Phonics

As you will know, Catch Up® Literacy is not a Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme, but you don’t have to look far in the Catch Up® Literacy approach to see the importance placed on phonics in the intervention.

Catch Up® Literacy Assessment 2 (Sight Word knowledge) may look like an old style ‘See and Say’ word assessment but remember, the Catch Up® focus is not on beginner readers but on older pupils who have already shown they have difficulty in learning to read, so this assessment is a record of those words which may initially have been acquired through phonic blending but which are now the ‘instant recognition’ words upon which fluency and comprehension depend.

The revised Framework stresses that phonic teaching in KS2 and KS3 should build on prior knowledge (not starting at the beginning of a scheme) and Catch Up® Literacy Assessment 3 (Phonic knowledge) enables schools to do that efficiently.

Catch Up® Literacy and Decodable books

The revised Framework recommends the exclusive use of books that are consistent with pupils’ developing phonic knowledge. The Catch Up® Literacy Booklist does include books which conform to SSP requirements but it also lists many books which are less rigid in their phonic regularity. On Catch Up® training we recommend schools use the books they have available – they will all be suitable for Catch Up® Literacy sessions. It’s also worth remembering that the Prepared Reading approach used in each Catch Up® Literacy session means that pupils are not having to guess at unknown words such as names or place names and so are able to prioritise using their phonics for more useful high frequency words.

Catch Up® Literacy and developing fluency

All the key strategies for developing reading fluency outlined in the revised Reading Framework are embedded in the Catch Up® approach:

Revised Reading Framework and Catch Up® Literacy

  • 1-to-1 sessions provided by a well-trained adult – All Catch Up® deliverers expertly trained by Accredited Trainers

  • Take place regularly – Catch Up® sessions 15-minutes, twice a week

  • Using a book at the right level – Catch Up® level ensured by results of the assessments for learning

  • Enthusing to build confidence – Catch Up® session enhanced by 3 minutes of prepared reading

  • Praising successful sounding out – Reinforced by the pause, prompt, praise approach

  • Re-reading – Encouraged in each Catch Up® session

  • Activities to secure phonic knowledge – Explored in the linked writing part of each Catch Up® session

Managing an intervention

The Revised Reading Framework has excellent advice on leadership and management of reading which neatly maps on to our priorities in Catch Up®:
  • the key role of School Leaders and SEN coordinators

  • the importance of detailed assessments

  • close monitoring of progress

So is there anything in the Revised Reading Framework which differs from the Catch Up® Literacy approach?

If I were to pick one thing where the priorities of the Reading Framework differ slightly from Catch Up® pedagogy, it would be regarding the best way to engage older struggling readers. In my experience, these pupils have one thing in common – they rarely find pleasure in reading, so their opportunity to develop as readers is severely limited. It seems to me that the very stilted language of decodable texts does not appeal to these pupils, so they are not motivated to read. Frequent feedback we get from Catch Up® sessions is that pupils, often for the first time, express an enthusiasm for reading and this spurs them on to work harder at their reading skills. If we go down the route of believing that pupils can only experience pleasure in reading once they have a certain level of phonic knowledge then my fear is, too many pupils will have given up the struggle before they get there. Catch Up® believes in inviting pupils to engage with books. We achieve this through each aspect of our carefully structured programme so that struggling readers find the pleasure that reading can bring and that motivates them to improve their reading skills.

Dee Reid
Consultant to Catch Up®

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