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Reading Recovery

What is Reading Recovery?

Reading recovery is an intensive short-term intervention for pupils who have the lowest literacy achievement levels in their first years at school. It was first introduced to teachers in England in 1989 and has since become widespread in Jersey, Wales, Ireland and Denmark. It is based on the principles of Marie M. Clay, a highly distinguished educational psychologist and researcher from New Zealand. She is committed to the importance of early intervention to help children who struggle to learn to read and write. Her work in educational literacy is recognised globally.

Failure in literacy has been linked to low self-esteem, lack of confidence, truancy and other social and emotional problems.

Reading Recovery has a proven track record of eliminating literacy failure for many young children. Children become proficient readers and writers at an early stage so early intervention is paramount to the programme’s success. 

The fully qualified Reading Recovery teacher at St. Patrick's is Neasa Burke. 

Key Features of Reading Recovery

Children receiving Reading Recovery are the lowest achieving five and six-year-olds in the mainstream class, regardless of language barriers or special needs.

A trained Teacher works individually with the selected pupils. Each pupil has an intensive half-hour programme of daily instruction, which supplements the regular class teaching. It builds upon and extends the child’s own literacy processing skills.

Several books are read at each lesson. New texts are introduced daily to challenge the pupils to discover new ways to go beyond their current operating ability and lift their literacy processing. They write their own stories paying attention to detail without losing focus on the meaning of the messages that they wish to convey.


The Reading Recovery programme is completed when pupils have caught up to their ‘average-performing’ classmates in reading and writing. Within 12-20 weeks they have acquired the necessary skills to contribute to their own learning. They are then expected to continue to progress effectively with their peers in subsequent years. All pupils exiting the programme are regularly monitored by the Reading Recovery Teacher to ensure that they have ‘maintained and extended their literacy gains’. 

It also acts as a pre-referral intervention for those pupils who have not successfully completed it. This very small group will still need extra help and further specialist guidance.

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