Reading Recovery's supremacy challenged

19th January 1996 at 00:00
Angela Hobsbaum and her colleagues in London claim that Reading Recovery is "the most cost-effective intervention in the long term" (TES, January 5).

However, in November 1995, Sheffield's Reading Recovery team published a report on THRASS ("Teaching Handwriting, Reading and Spelling Skills", Collins Educational).

The report concluded that "almost without exception, the pilot teachers felt that THRASS should be used as an early intervention approach where the gap between children encountering reading difficulties and their peers was not too wide".

The report drew attention to "substantial gains" made by the children, and a headteacher interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live referred to some of the children's progress as "phenomenal".

The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority evaluation of RR, referred to by Angela Hobsbaum, was nothing more than a perfunctory exercise to justify the millions of pounds thrown at it.

In comparison, as reported in Language Learning (December 1995): "It is estimated, though admittedly in the absence of any published figures by Sheffield education authority, that the THRASS project cost about one-tenth of that for similar numbers of teachers and children using RR."

As authorities consider their bids for one of the Education and Employment Secretary's specialist literacy centres, they would do well to consider the advice given by Mona McNee in a letter to The TES in October 1994, that "before Reading Recovery is adopted anywhere else, other programmes should be trialled. I believe it unlikely that RR will prove to be the best".

ALAN DAVIES

Senior lecturer

Crewe school of education

Manchester Metropolitan University

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