Giving schools more freedom over the curriculum will mean little if the Government cuts central funding to programmes such as Every Child a Reader (ECAR), heads' union the NAHT has warned.
The #163;6 million a year Government subsidy for the literacy programme - and its sister maths initiative Every Child Counts - enables schools to employ extra staff but will end next year.
Di Hatchett, director of Every Child a Chance Trust, which supports the schemes, said: "There is huge enthusiasm from headteachers for the programmes not only because they have an impact on closing the gap for the lowest achieving pupils but also because they are seeing huge benefits across schools.
"(Funding) pays for the infrastructure to train specialist teachers - for two universities who developed and run the professional development and 120 teacher leaders who train teachers, including their transport costs. It works out at about #163;100 per child helped."
Mike Welsh, president of the NAHT and head of Goddard Park primary in Swindon, intends to continue employing two full-time ECAR teachers.
"The teachers work with 16 children a year - about a quarter of my intake - and this programme changes lives," he said.
Mr Welsh, whose school was due to achieve academy status this week, said that he expected to fund ECAR with cash from the new pupil premium, which will provide additional money for supporting disadvantaged children.
But he added: "The concern is that although at school level we can keep those interventions by paying for additional staff, you need an infrastructure beyond school level.
"I think in the whole scope of things, even including the austerity measures, the ability of these programmes to change children's lives is worth it."