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Durham University

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Evaluation of Literacy for Life Programme

A research project of the School of Education.


Evaluations of whole-school literacy reforms have been previously conducted at primary level. These include Every Child a Reader (ECaR) which involved a whole-school model of teaching plus engaging parents (Tanner et al. 2010). This may have had a positive impact but at a high cost. There is less evidence for secondary schools. A recent systematic review found 14 literacy interventions used at secondary level (Brooks 2013). The literacy interventions that have some evidence of effectiveness are: Academy of Reading, BRP, Corrective Reading, Literacy Acceleration, Read Write Inc. Fresh Start, THRASS and Toe by Toe, Catch-up Literacy, Philosophy for Children, The Accelerated Reader, and Sound Training for Reading. The majority of these interventions are for Year 7 to 9 and none has been tested for Year 10. These interventions were not always implemented or evaluated as whole-school literacy programmes.


The project is funded by the following grant.

  • Evaluation Of National Literacy Trust Academies Programme (£53333.33 from National Literacy Trust)


This new project is intended to improve literacy in six selected academies, with the possibility of scaling up depending upon initial results. A non-random sample, and a comparison of pre and post-test differences with matched schools will be conducted. Although this may be necessary for the wider outcomes, due to limitations of fieldwork, this is a weak design for any evaluation, even using propensity score matching (Gorard 2013). However, an alternative for the main impact evaluation using existing KS data would be to compare the six intervention schools with all other relevant schools. This would be fairer test of whether the six schools made differential progress.


From the School of Education