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Raising Early Achievement in Literacy

Evidence rating
3
Cost rating
3
Review: Foundations for Life, July 2016

Raising early achievement in literacy (REAL) aims to improve children's early literacy by teaching parents effective strategies for supporting their children’s learning.

The programme is a long-duration (five group sessions and 10 home visits over 12 or 18 months) literacy programme designed for families with children aged between three-and-a-half and five years living in disadvantaged communities.

REAL is delivered by teachers who have been trained in the delivery of the REAL programme. REAL has five main components: home visits by programme teachers; provision of literacy resources (particularly books); centre-based group activities; special events (eg group library visits); and postal communication between the teacher and child.

The programme is based on the ORIM concepts (Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and Models of literacy). Operating within this framework, the programme aims to support parents’ contribution to their children’s literacy learning through: i) providing opportunities to learn; ii) recognising and valuing early achievements; iii) interacting in learning situations; and iv) modelling literacy behaviours.

EIF Programme Assessment

Evidence rating
3

Raising Early Achievement in Literacy has evidence of a short-term positive impact on child outcomes from at least one rigorous evaluation.

What does the evidence rating mean?

Level 3 indicates evidence of efficacy. This means the programme can be described as evidence-based: it has evidence from at least one rigorously conducted RCT or QED demonstrating a statistically significant positive impact on at least one child outcome.

This programme does not receive a rating of 4 as it has not yet replicated its results in another rigorously conducted study, where at least one study indicates long-term impacts, and at least one uses measures independent of study participants. 

Cost rating
3

A rating of 3 indicates that a programme has a medium cost to set up and deliver, compared with other interventions reviewed by EIF. This is equivalent to an estimated unit cost of £500–£999.

Child outcomes

According to the best available evidence for this programme's impact, it can achieve the following positive outcomes for children:

Enhancing school achievement & employment

Improved literacy - based on study 1

Improved letter recognition - based on study 1

Raising Early Achievement in Literacy

Key programme characteristics

Who is it for?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to the following age-groups:

  • Preschool

How is it delivered?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to implementation through these delivery models:

  • Home visiting

Where is it delivered?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to its implementation in these settings:

  • Home
  • Children's centre or early-years setting

How is it targeted?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to its implementation as:

  • Targeted selective

Where has it been implemented?

United Kingdom

UK provision

This programme has been implemented in the UK.

UK evaluation

This programme’s best evidence includes evaluation conducted in the UK.

Raising Early Achievement in Literacy

About the programme

What happens during delivery?

How is it delivered?
  • REAL is delivered to groups of approximately eight families in five group sessions (of approximately 45 minutes’ duration). In addition, 10 home visits are offered on an individual basis to each family. The programme is delivered by a teacher with QCF-6 qualifications and 64 hours of programme training.
What happens during the intervention?
  • The programme is delivered over 12 or 18 months and is designed for families with children aged between three-and-a-half and five years living in disadvantaged communities.
  • REAL has six main components: home visits by programme teachers; provision of literacy resources (particularly books); centre-based group activities; special events (eg group library visits); postal communication between the teacher and child; and appropriate adult education opportunities for parents.
  • The programme is based on the ORIM concepts: Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and Models of literacy.
  • Operating within this framework, the programme aims to support parents’ contribution to their children’s literacy learning through: i) providing opportunities to learn; ii) recognising and valuing early achievements; iii) interacting in learning situations; and iv) modelling literacy behaviours.

What are the implementation requirements?

Who can deliver it?
  • The programme is delivered by a teacher with QCF-6 qualifications and 64 hours of programme training.
What are the training requirements?
  • Practitioners have 64 hours of programme training. Booster training is not required.
How are the practitioners supervised?
  • In the evaluated REAL project, supervision was provided by two programme developer supervisors with QCF-level 7/8.
What are the systems for maintaining fidelity?
  • Training manual
  • Other online material
  • Video or DVD training
  • Face-to-face training
Is there a licensing requirement?

There is no licence required to run this programme.

How does it work? (Theory of Change)

How does it work?
  • REAL assumes that children’s early literacy skills can be improved through effective parental strategies for supporting children’s learning.
  • REAL provides parents of pre-school children with strategies, ways of thinking about their roles, and resources to enable them to support their child’s development of literacy skills.
  • In the short term, children’s literacy skills improve.
  • In the long term, the programme is designed to improve children’s literacy achievement in school. 

Contact details

Raising Early Achievement in Literacy

About the evidence

REAL’s most rigorous evidence comes from an RCT conducted in the UK.

Study 1

Citation: Nutbrown et al (2005)
Design: RCT
Country: United Kingdom
Sample: 176 families
Timing: -
Child outcomes: Improved literacy
Improved letter recognition
Other outcomes: None measured

Nutbrown, C., Hannon, P., & Morgan, A. (2005). Early literacy work with families. London: SAGE Publications

Other studies

The following studies were identified for this programme but did not count towards the programme's overall evidence rating. A programme receives the same rating as its most robust study or studies.

Hirst, K., Hannon, P., & Nutbrown, C. (2010). Effects of a preschool bilingual family literacy programme. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 10, 183-208.

Published March 2017   |   Last updated April 2017