Rhythm for Reading - sustainable reading intervention for schools

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The Rhythm for Reading programme

Who is it for?

The Rhythm for Reading programme has been created for teachers of students aged five years and older. It is suitable for teachers who enjoy a faster-paced style of teaching.

Start by matching the different versions of the programme to the students’ age and also to their ability to concentrate (i.e. cognitive control).

What do you want to change?

The gentle slope (i.e. gentle gradient) nurtures weak cognitive control.

It helps students who struggle to focus their attention on tasks.

The steep slope (i.e. steep gradient) strengthens unreliable cognitive control.

It helps students who are not yet realising their potential, particularly in terms of phonological awareness, reading fluency and reading comprehension.

Special versions of the programme have been modified to suit students with learning differences, based on our work in special schools.

  • Key Stage 1 (from five to seven years)
    • Gentle slope
    • Steep slope
  • Lower Key Stage 2 (from seven to nine years of age)
    • Gentle slope
    • Steep slope
  • Upper Key Stage 2 (from nine to eleven years of age)
    • Gentle slope
    • Steep slope
  • Key Stage 3 plus (from eleven years of age)
    • Gentle slope
    • Steep slope
  • Special programme (from ten years of age)
    • Gentle slope
  • Extra special programme (from ten years of age)
    • Very gentle slope

Useful links

You can read our safeguarding policy here.

You can read about training here.

Click here to ask for a brochure.

Ask a question here.

Click here to apply for training and join the programme.

What does Rhythm for Reading consist of?

  • The programme unfolds over ten weeks.
  • Each weekly session lasts for ten minutes.
  • Students take part in a group size of ten.
  • Teachers access the programme via a secure online portal.
  • The teaching resources are streamed onto interactive whiteboards.
  • Teachers use the programme to rapidly build students’ cognitive control and reading-related skills week by week.

Self-directed training for the programme at a glance:

  • Two live workshops
  • Two supervision calls
  • Online ‘Prepsteps’

Bespoke training for the programme at a glance:

  • Weekly shadowing sessions
  • Individual student assessments
  • A detailed report on students’ progress
  • Two one-day workshops
  • Online ‘Prepsteps’

How the programme works

During the Rhythm for Reading intervention programme, students read music notation with accuracy, fluency and coordination as a group. Individually however, they are each actively engaged in the process of learning how to learn, which involves the development both of self-regulation and metacognition as shown below.

Learning to learn with Rhythm for Reading

Self-regulation Metacognition Application
Building the capacity for self-control Building the capacity for learning to learn Building reading fluency & comprehension
Learning to become aware of, maintain and expand focal attention. Learning to manage control of focal attention, whilst:
  • responding to audio resources,
  • moving and reading in time with audio resources,
  • switching vocal response according to different types of musical symbol within rhythmic structure (ie all responses are framed by time constraints).
Learning to discriminate between visually similar symbols, whilst fostering deeper & more consistent management of focal attention.
Learning to gauge and anticipate the position of the eyes on the screen. Remembering to look ahead during tasks: this fosters expectancy, discourages fixation and strengthens an automatic visual response for reading. The visual component of reading becomes more automatic & the use of focal attention becomes more efficient.
Learning to use an assertive voice, whilst reading aloud. Maintaining an assertive voice during tasks: this fosters sharper definition and deeper personal involvement in reading. Clearer input provides clearer perception of what is read. The phonological component becomes more sharply defined; focal attention becomes more effectively directed & more sensitive to grammatical structures.

Student assessment

The assessment service offered to schools is included in the overall cost of the reading programme and tailored to suit the area of focus for each school as detailed below. Twelve students, selected by the school receive an individual assessment both at the beginning and end of the ten week Rhythm for Reading intervention programme, using diagnostic tests designed for use by specialist teachers.

All standardised assessments acknowledge that a student’s performance can vary from day to day; therefore a measurement taken on one day is simply a snapshot of their performance and cannot be said to provide a definitive score. Discussing students’ progress with the school provides an essential validity check.

We ask each school to select twelve students for diagnostic assessment in order to:

  • Support the school in tracking the progress of a group of pupils for whom there is a particular concern or focus (such as Pupil Premium)
  • Benchmark the extent of the effectiveness of the reading intervention programme as a reference point for teachers delivering the programme in the school in the future
  • Demonstrate the effectiveness of the intervention programme in the context of each participating school as a form of accountability to that school.
  • Rule out selection bias when demonstrating the effectiveness of the programme.

Reading comprehension

Most students learn to read more fluently, easily and with better understanding. Progress in this aspect of reading development is measured using the the NARA II (published by GL Assessment), which provides reading ages and standardised scores for reading accuracy, reading comprehension and reading rate for students ranging from six to thirteen years of age.

Phonological awareness

A proportion of students struggle to discern phonemes (the smallest units of sound in language) in early education. Phonological awareness is comprehensively assessed using the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CToPP, published by Pearson). This measure provides standardised scores and age equivalent scores for phonological elision, phonological blending, memory for digits, rapid naming, and phonological blending of non-words, for students ranging from five to twenty-four years of age.