Catch Up Literacy
Catch Up Literacy is an intervention for children who have experienced years of reading instruction but still have acute reading difficulties. It is a book-based, structured, one-to-one literacy intervention, addressed to both word recognition and language comprehension for children who are struggling to learn to read. The program is administered by teachers or teacher aides, after training from Catch Up Approved Trainers.
Originating in Britain, Catch Up Literacy was piloted successfully at schools in New South Wales and Tasmania in 2009. Since then it has been applied at a number of schools in both states, where it is continuing to assist students in need. The program providers are now considering ways to make it more widely available in Australia.
Catch Up Literacy was developed by Diana Bentley, Suzi Clipson-Boyles, Wayne Holmes, Julie Lawes, Dee Reid and Sue Walker, based on research at Oxford Brookes University reported in 2000 (Clipson-Boyles). The program is administered by Catch Up Ltd, a newly established Australian not-for-profit charity working to address the problem of underachievement that has its roots in literacy and numeracy difficulties. It is supported by the British parent organisation which was established in 1997.
(Reproduced from Holmes, Reid and Dowker 2012)
Catch Up Literacy in Australia
In 2009, Catch Up's parent organisation was approached by three Australian principals who had witnessed the intervention in Britain, with an invitation to trial the literacy program in their own schools. A pilot program was organised, attracting interest from other schools. The pilot involved a mix of 14 primary and K–12 schools, operating in a range of socio-economic contexts in NSW and Tasmania.
Staff at the schools identified 148 struggling readers, using criteria established during Catch Up Literacy training sessions. They included both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. The average chronological age of the participating students was 10 years 9 months, while their average reading age – identified by the Salford Standardised Reading Test – was 6 years 10 months, a gap of almost four years.
After six months of intervention, the participating learners achieved average reading age gains of 15 months. These results were based on an average of less than one session per week (some learners received the recommended two sessions per week while others missed some sessions).
Based on this promising start, Catch Up Ltd established an office in Australia in 2011. The literacy program was expanded at each of the pilot schools and now involves additional schools in NSW and in Tasmania.
Program staff have maintained contact with the schools in NSW to check that all is going well with the intervention and whether additional staff training is required. In Tasmania the program has expanded with further schools asking to take part, and initial training has also taken place at two schools in Victoria.
Catch Up Ltd is currently aiming to extend its literacy program to other schools in NSW, Tasmania and Victoria, with a longer term aim of expanding the program to other states and territories. Other goals include introducing a companion program, Catch Up Numeracy, to Australian schools; investigating opportunities for distance education, to help struggling learners in remote areas; conducting longitudinal research into the literacy program's effectiveness for Indigenous students; and forming like-minded educational establishments and charitable institutes to target children/areas with most need.
For more information about the Catch Up interventions or to book training please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.catchup.org
For more information about Australian schools delivering Catch Up interventions please email email@example.com
Catch Up would like to thank all of the school children and staff who contributed to the research.
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Clipson-Boyles, S. (2000). The Catch Up Project: a reading intervention in Year 3 for Level 1 readers (Research Note). Journal of Research in Reading, 23, 1, 78–84.
Holmes, W., Reid, D., & Dowker, A. (2012). 4th World Conference on Educational Sciences, 2012, Early intervention to prevent long-term literacy difficulties: the case of Catch Up Literacy. ScienceDirect.
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Subject HeadingsReading comprehension