Bristol family to speak at the House of Lords about how Reading Recovery changed their lives

A family from Bristol will today (5 Dec) be speaking at a House of Lords reception about how taking part in the Reading Recovery programme has changed their lives.

Reading Recovery is a school-based literacy programme for the lowest achieving children aged five or six, which enables them to reach age-expected levels within 20 weeks. The programme runs in schools and involves a short series of one-to-one, tailored lessons for 30 minutes every day with a specially trained teacher.

Sophie Shirt and her son Gus have experienced first-hand the impact that the support can have. They have been invited to speak at an event to mark the launch of new research highlighting the impact of the programme ten years after children received the intervention.

Sophie said:

“Gus was invited to take part in Reading Recovery when he was in year 1 as he was finding reading very tricky and was struggling to find a space in which his own voice could be heard in class. This was impacting on his confidence, his learning across the board, and his feelings about going to school.

“Being supported by the Reading Recovery programme was a blessing as it caught Gus at a critical time in his own personal development. It made a significant difference to him and to us as a family and I was immediately struck by the holistic, child-centred approach that was taken. Like most parents, I have many hopes and dreams for my children and it was wonderful to see how the programme helped Gus to re-set the path he is on and grow in confidence.”

Gus, 9, said:

“When I was younger, I really liked Spiderman. In fact I was mad about it. I used to spend quite a bit of time upside down on the top of our sofa, or hanging off the banisters at home. I didn’t like school much as I was finding learning really hard, especially reading.

“My Reading Recovery teacher asked me what I liked reading about and I said that I liked Spiderman. She asked me if I’d like to make a book about Spiderman and I said yes. With her help I could see that my reading was getting better which made me feel really good about myself and I started to enjoy school more. Reading Recovery inspired me to make more books when I get older. Now I love reading cartoon books and I do drawing and writing every day.”

Sophie and Gus will be joined at the House of Lords reception by reading recovery teachers from Glenfrome Primary, Whitehall Primary and Oasis Academy Bankleaze as well as representatives from Bristol City Council and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). The event is being held to launch two new independent research reports, commissioned by the KPMG Foundation, which explore the long term benefits of Reading Recovery. The research found that the intervention helps close the GCSE attainment gap between these children needing support and their peers.

Cllr Anna Keen, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said:

“Helping level the playing field in reading is one of the key ways that we can give children the best possible start in life. It opens up new opportunities and helps children progress in education and beyond. As a Learning City, it is one of our key areas of focus and there are many different partners and programmes running around the city all focused on the same goal. Reading Recovery is a key piece of this jigsaw and thousands of children in Bristol have now benefited.”

For more information about the Reading Recovery programme visit: