Targeted approaches for literacy catch-up

Little girl writing

Over the next academic year schools will be tackling the challenges caused or exacerbated by COVID-19. The Department for Education recently announced a funding package to support this effort.

On this page we have summarised what the literacy needs are likely to be and some of the ways we can help you.

What are the literacy challenges?

Monitoring and assessment of literacy skills will be required to identify the needs in each school but the majority of children will have spent less time reading, writing, speaking and listening during lockdown. Evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) suggests that school closures are likely to have greatest impact on financially disadvantaged pupils and we could see a widening of the attainment gap. Children eligible for Free School Meals and Pupil Premium are therefore especially likely to benefit from targeted interventions.

Learn more about the EEF's analysis on the impact of school closures on the attainment gap.

How the National Literacy Trust can help

Our interventions are rigorously tested and evaluated and we are confident they can help you with your literacy catch-up.


  • Our Premier League Reading Stars intervention is free to schools and targets reluctant readers and uses a reciprocal reading approach to improve reading progress and children's confidence and engagement with reading. Find out how the programme worked in one school here.
  • Catch Up® Literacy is a structured, one-to-one intervention proven to more than double rates of progress for learners who struggle with literacy. It involves 15-minute individual sessions delivered twice a week by trained teaching assistants, teachers or mentors. The team at Catch Up® have very kindly offered an exclusive discount for National Literacy Trust members.
  • Skills Academy is a reading intervention for students aged 11-13 that can effectively support students who need to catch up on their return to school. It is a highly engaging tool that uses appealing and relatable texts to motivate even the most reluctant readers as well as considering their wellbeing by including downloadable rewards and physical movement in every lesson.


The IPEELL approach to improving writing has been evaluated by the EEF and found to have an impact on the writing skills of low prior attainers. Your school can implement this approach using our improving writing pack for primary schools.

Please click on the links below to find out more.

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Further research

  • COVID-19 support for schools

    This guide from the EEF summarises some of the ways schools can support children to get back on track following lockdown and school closures including teaching and whole school strategies, targeted approaches and wider strategies.

  • Children and young people's writing during lockdown

    Our research found that 1 in 5 children said they were writing more during lockdown. Key themes including having more time to express their creativity and that writing supported their wellbeing.

  • Children and young people's reading during lockdown

    With results from our Annual Literacy Survey and a follow up survey in lockdown, our research showed that a third of children were reading more during lockdown.