What strategies really work to improve Literacy in the classroom?

As teachers we’re always looking for the ‘Holy Grail’ of the classroom - what makes the biggest difference in the shortest time. Luckily for us, all the research on what works in the classroom has been done by the Education Endowment Foundation. So particularly now, when every school is trying to make up for lost COVID time, we need to use the invaluable groundwork the EEF has done to help us make every lesson count. Dee Reid, co-creator of Shine: Targeted Interventions for Primary, discusses what strategies really work to improve Literacy in the classroom.

The EEF grades strategies on the strength of the evidence on a scale from ‘Very Limited’ to ‘Very Extensive’. The strategy which achieves the ‘Very Extensive’ grade to improve literacy at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 is ‘teach reading comprehension strategies through modelling and supported practice’ which scores +6 for Impact. And that’s why this approach is built in to Shine: Targeted Interventions for Primary.

How does Shine use modelling and supported practice?

Choose your focus area

Shine is called a ‘targeted’ intervention because you choose which strand of comprehension your test data suggests is the area where pupils most need support.

  • Is their limited vocabulary restricting their comprehension of a text?
  • Do they find it hard to quickly retrieve relevant information from the text?
  • Do they only respond on the literal level and are oblivious to any inferred meanings in a text
Tackle the weakness in a two-stage approach

The two-stage approach to teaching comprehension built in to Shine enables the adult (teacher or Teaching Assistant) to demonstrate the key skills of Comprehension using Text A before moving on to support the pupils’ learning as, with a greater degree of independence, they complete very similar tasks based on Text B.


The steps for each Shine session move through a learning sequence from:

Modelling -> Support -> Practise

For Session 1 using Text A, there is more emphasis on adult modelling and less on pupil practice.

In Session 2 using Text B, there is more emphasis on independent work with adult feedback. Pupils practise the strategies demonstrated by the adult in Text A. Over the course of the Session, that support is gradually reduced as the pupils take increasing responsibility.

Interestingly, the EEF, have also rated highly the importance of revealing the thought processes of an expert learner (the adult) to help to develop pupils’ metacognitive skills. When teachers verbalise their thinking, they are giving pupils strategies not just to answer a specific question but to become strategic about their learning in general. And that’s why the Shine teaching notes linked to Text B uses scaffolding prompts such as:

  • Decide where in the text to look for the answer.
  • Ask pupils what they should do to answer the question.
  • Ask pupils how they can focus on what the question is asking.   

And of course, Shine has its easy-to-use modelling software to help you, so the modelling of answers is easy for you to demonstrate and engaging for the pupils to follow.

So, if you’re looking for something for the focussed teaching of comprehension skills that ticks all the boxes of the EEF’s recommendations, then look no further than Shine: Targeted Interventions for Primary.


Shine: Targeted Interventions for Primary is a 3-step solution designed to help you seamlessly assess understanding, identify knowledge gaps and deliver targeted individual and group intervention activities for the areas of weakness demonstrated in your pupils’ diagnostic test results. Find out more about Shine today.

Dee Reid



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