Pearson response to the DfE report on Literacy and Numeracy Catch Up Strategies

Pearson is committed to supporting learners of all abilities reach their learning potential.

We work hard to evaluate the impact of our products, and report transparently and publicly on the impact of our products on learners. We welcome the DfE’s approach to supporting schools in understanding the evidence of the impact of Literacy and Numeracy Catch Up strategies before choosing the strategies to employ in their schools.

The DfE report on Literacy and Numeracy Catch Up Strategies published on the 17th October 2017 is intended to help teachers identify how best to support low-attaining Year 7 pupils.

Pearson has a number of products to support Year 7 students who need additional support in literacy and numeracy. For example, Rapid Plus is designed for KS3 students who are struggling with reading and has been evaluated by groups such as Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council for its impact. It is part of our Rapid Reading family of products which has been shown by an NFER independent research trial to deliver 5.7 months progress in 2.3 months.

The DfE report included a summary of another of our products, Rapid Phonics. Rapid Phonics is designed for use by students in Year 1 to Year 6, (rather than Year 7), who are significantly below age-related expectations and are struggling specifically with the skills of word reading and decoding. When used with these students, as part of a continuous programme, there is a bank of evidence of students making high levels of progress. This includes longitudinal studies over 8 years of the Sound Discovery programme on which Rapid Phonics is based, and a number of Local Authority trials.

The EEF trial referenced by the DfE was of an experimental use of Rapid Phonics to support the transition of students between primary and secondary schools. Pupils used the resources for 6 weeks in Year 6 in their Junior school, and 6 weeks in Year 7 in their new secondary school. Pupils that received the intervention included those that were only just below age-related expectations, rather than the recommended target group of students that are significantly behind their peers. In addition, no assessment to identify learners that needed specific support in word reading and decoding was used to identify pupils for the intervention. The EEF study found that when used in this way, the intervention had no statistically significant impact on pupil progress. However, this conclusion can not be extrapolated to the impact of Rapid Phonics in other situations.

Both reports also quoted a price per pupil of £205. This assumed the resources were purchased by both the feeder Primary and the Secondary school. Using the same methodology for calculating the cost of teacher time, the price would be reduced to £175 per pupil if the programme was delivered in the recommended manner by a single school. This price would be reduced further in subsequent years as the majority of Rapid Phonics resources are designed to be reused.

We would like to reassure our Primary School customers using Rapid Phonics that when used in the recommended manner, the snappy lessons, lively age-appropriate books and interactive activities within Rapid Phonics, are shown to support low ability and SEN students make significant progress in their reading.

Secondary schools looking to support students who are significantly behind age-related expectations for reading are likely to find that our KS3 product, Rapid Plus, better meets their needs. It also provides excellent support for EAL pupils with good literacy skills who need ‘fast tracking’ through reading and spelling in English.

If you would like help in identifying the approach best suited to your school or students, please contact Helen Curry.