REACH Primary

The REACH (Reading for CompreHension) Primary project is an educational trial funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. The project is managed by Dr Paula Clarke (School of Education, University of Leeds) in collaboration with Dr Shirley-Anne Paul (School of Psychology, University of York). The Research Fellow working on the project is Dr Peter Hart (School of Education, University of Leeds).


  • REACH Primary is an intervention designed to improve the reading skills of pupils in Year 3. It is based on a programme called REACH, which in a previous EEF trial was shown to have positive impacts on secondary school pupils reading skills.
  • REACH Primary is for the weakest readers in Year 3.  
  • It is delivered by Teaching Assistants (TAs) trained by researchers from the University of Leeds and comprises 60 x 30 minute individual support sessions per pupil.
  • The methods used in REACH Primary are aligned with the ‘Simple View of Reading’ (Gough & Tunmer, 1986) and as such target word recognition and decoding skills alongside oral language comprehension.
  • The teaching approaches are based on established techniques derived from ‘Reading Intervention’ (Hatcher, Hulme & Ellis, 1994) and the ‘York Reading for Meaning Project’ (Clarke et al. 2013).


  • 80 large primary schools (with at least two classes in Year 3) from the North East, Yorkshire and Humber, Greater Manchester, and Lincolnshire regions of England will be recruited to the REACH Primary evaluation.
  • Schools will identify the 10 weakest readers who will be starting Year 3 in September 2019.
  • 40 schools will be randomly allocated to the intervention group and 40 to the control group.


  • 2 TAs from each school will complete 2 days of initial face-to-face training, 1 day of top-up training, 5 short online seminars, and a series of training tasks. A member of the SLT will attend the morning of the first training day.
  • TAs will each work with 5 students and provide 3 x 30 minute individual support sessions every week for 20 weeks (7.5 hours of TA delivery per week).
  • TAs will also require some preparation time (based on 5 students, 1.5. hours per week) and a tablet computer to use during the sessions.
  • 2 sessions per week target word recognition and decoding skills and the third focuses on oral language comprehension.
  • Each school will receive a set of REACH teaching materials. In addition they will need a ‘starter book box’ which corresponds to Hatcher grading levels 1-30. Schools will be required to contribute £300 to cover the cost of this (that they keep).


These pupils will not be participating in the REACH intervention, but schools will receive £500 for providing baseline data and for organising the evaluation team to come in and collect post test data on the chosen pupils.


  • Sheffield Hallam University is independently evaluating this programme.
  • The evaluation aims to identify what effect REACH has on children's reading skills and their confidence. The evaluation is not an assessment of individual pupils or schools but is about understanding how effective the programme is overall.
  • As part of the evaluation all schools will be asked to provide the names of the TAs and baseline data from national tests on the selected pupils.
  • In June and July 2020 pupils will also need to complete:
    • A 30 minute digital reading test.
    • A 30 minute face-to-face assessment of word recognition and decoding and language comprehension.
  • As part of the evaluation, some schools will be chosen as a case-study. The case study will be used to understand experiences of delivering the intervention.

Take part

If you would like to be part of the REACH Primary project contact Dr Paula Clarke - 0113 3439410 or email


Project information sheet