Two independent research reports commissioned by the KPMG Foundation into the long-term benefits of Reading Recovery, a school-based literacy programme for the lowest achieving children aged five and six, reveal that the intervention helps close the GCSE attainment gap between these children and their peers. The research shows that Reading Recovery has the potential to deliver up to £1.2 billion to the economy in the form of increased lifetime earnings and reduced costs for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) services.

The report, entitled, ‘The impact of Reading Recovery ten years after intervention’, found that when compared to the lowest attaining children who did not participate in the programme (the comparison group), children who benefited from Reading Recovery were:

• More than twice as likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs including English and mathematics: 49% vs 23% in the comparison group

• Less likely to leave school with no qualifications: 2% vs 7% in the comparison group

• Performing only 5% below the national average at age 16 in GCSEs, despite having been in the bottom 10% of readers at age six

• Requiring no intensive special-needs support (a Statement of Special Educational Needs, or Education, Health and Care Plan [ECHP]), while 10% of the comparison group had a Statement or EHCP at age 14, and 9% at age 16

Building on these findings, the study by charity Pro Bono Economics, ‘Assessing the impact of the Reading Recovery programme – an economic evaluation’, calculates that across the 101,000 children in England who took part in Reading Recovery between 2005/06 and 2016/17, for every £1 invested (£290 million in total) the programme has the potential to deliver a return to UK society of up to £4.30 (£1.2 billion in total) by improving long-term outcomes for each child over the course of their lifetimes.

Reading Recovery provides literacy support for the lowest-attaining five- and six-year olds through daily one-to-one reading sessions with trained specialist teachers. The current research forms a key legacy of the Every Child a Reader programme, which ran from 2005 to 2011 and was backed by the KPMG Foundation in collaboration with the Institute of Education, government, and a coalition of funders including SHINE.

Fiona Spellman, Chief Executive of SHINE said: “It is fantastic to see that the Reading Recovery programme has such impact, not only on the school attainment of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but also in the delivery of wider economic benefits.

“We provided early stage investment in Every Child A Reader programme because we saw its potential to play a huge part in our mission to level the playing field between children from low income homes and their wealthier peers. We want to congratulate all partners involved for achieving such wonderful results.”

Lord Jim O’Neill, Patron of Pro Bono Economics and Trustee at SHINE, a co-funder of the Every Child A Reader strategy, said: “I am delighted to see such impactful results not just in terms of levelling the playing field between disadvantaged children and their wealthier peers, but also to see a programme that can significantly boost productivity and skills in the long term and offer wider economic benefits to society. I hope that these excellent results will see the Reading Recovery programme expanded in future.”

Find out more information about the Reading Recovery programme on the KPMG Foundation website.