Who is running this project?

The project was run by Dr Anna Tsakalaki and Professor Emerita Rhona Stainthorp at the University of Reading.

What is this project about?

This project set out to explore inclusive literacy teaching practice in an accelerated learning programme in a Sub-Saharan country for children 8-14 years old who have never been to school or have been out of school for more than two years. The programme aims to enable them to transition into Government schools at an age-appropriate level. The country has been selected because it has significantly high percentages of children who have been out of school for long periods of time and have been unable to attain age-appropriate levels of literacy and numeracy. Results of a recent investigation in the performance of children taking the accelerated programme in 2021-22 were encouraging. However, much more refined research was needed to understand how the reading needs of children who struggle to progress in reading are addressed by the pedagogy and teaching practice implemented to ensure inclusive practice.

The research goal of this project was to pinpoint ways used for identifying and supporting specific reading difficulties in the population attending the programme. Evidence was collected via inspecting the curriculum and content of training for educators, observing teaching/learning practice in-class, and holding interviews with educators, supervisors and managers.

The findings of this study highlighted the significant role of educators as the main agents identifying the reading needs of and supporting children with reading difficulties in a low-resource learning environment. Specifically, the results underline the importance of regular monitoring of students’ progress in class, as well as training and equipping the educators with the skills and subject knowledge needed to adjust literacy teaching activities to the specific reading needs of their students. The findings of this study add to the under-researched area of inclusive learning for pupils with reading difficulties in low-resource educational environments. Moreover, they have significant implications for education policy making in countries facing high percentages of out of school youth and major limitations to catering for diverse literacy needs in class.

The project was funded by the NGO running the accelerated learning programme. For ethical reasons, the name of the NGO is not revealed to protect anonymity of participating settings and sample.