Reading Recovery continues to be a success, despite the rapid expansion of the programme.
According to the latest annual monitoring report by the European Centre for Reading Recovery, nearly 2,000 children were removed from the special needs register in 2009-10 as a result of taking part in the literacy programme, a short-term intervention which is aimed at children struggling with reading and writing after their first year of primary school.
Over the past three years, the number of children receiving Reading Recovery in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Jersey and the Irish Republic has soared by 126 per cent, from about 7,700 in 2007-08 to more than 17,500 in 2009-10.
Despite this expansion, the quality of the programme has been sustained with an 80 per cent success rate, allowing non-readers to continue on through the mainstream curriculum. They made five times the normal rate of progress. The remaining children received longer-term support.
The annual report revealed that nearly half the children who received Reading Recovery in 2009-10 were from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, a higher percentage than the standard level in the classroom.
Julia Douetil, lead trainerco-ordinator at the European Centre for Reading Recovery, said: "There is no silver bullet. Reading Recovery teachers change the life chances of children through a deep understanding of how children learn and why they struggle with reading, combined with sheer hard work.
"People were concerned that Reading Recovery could not expand at this rate and retain its quality, but the teachers and teacher leaders have proved them wrong.
"We are especially pleased that the programme is closing the attainment gap between poor children and their classmates. Although children entitled to free school meals are two-and-a-half times more likely to be among the lowest attaining who need Reading Recovery, they quickly catch up and are every bit as successful as others.
Reading Recovery was developed in the 1970s by New Zealand educator Dr Marie Clay. It is now used world-wide.
Children are taught individually for 30 minutes each day, for an average of between 15 and 20 weeks by a specially-trained teacher.
In 2009-10, nearly 160 authoritiesdistricts implemented Reading Recovery in the UK and Ireland, involving more than 17,500 children in over 1,900 schools.