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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Stephen Gorard

See, B H, Gorard, S & Siddiqui, N (2015). Evaluation of the Curriculum Centre Word and World Reading programme. Education Endowment Foundation.
  • Publication type: Report

Author(s) from Durham


The Word and World Reading programmeintended to improve the reading comprehension and wider literacy skills of children aged 7-9 in primary schools from low income families in England. The programme was implemented with 659 of 1,340 pupils (in 8 out of 17 schools randomised to treatmnet), and focused on improving the vocabulary and background knowledge (sometimes labelled “core knowledge”) of pupils, through the use of specially designed “knowledge-rich” reading material, vocabulary word lists, a read-aloud approach and resources such as atlases and globes. The programme is based on the rationale that children need background knowledge to be able to comprehend what they read, and hence that improving background knowledge will be an effective way to help struggling readers. The intervention was generally well-received, and some teachers felt that the programme had a positive impact on pupil learning, including improved vocabulary and writing skills. In some lessons teachers’ subject knowledge did not appear to be sufficient to support an in-depth discussion with pupils about some of the topics within the programme curriculum. This suggests that additional training or support materials may have been beneficial. The subsequent attainment data did not indicate a beneficial impact ('effect' size of -0.03 on Progress in English).