AboutEarly Literacy Support

Developed by the National Reading Recovery team in collaboration with the Universities of Auckland, Waikato and Otago, Early Literacy Support extends the Reading Recovery provision to work with small groups and teachers in classrooms. The approach is educator-led and grounded in educational science.

The extension allows Reading Recovery teachers to offer expertise more widely in a school. The refresh is Reading Recovery's contribution to rebuilding literacy rates in New Zealand.

Built on success

The theory underpinning Reading Recovery & Early Literacy Support draws on the following sources:

  • Principles of Educational Science (Snow, 2015) and Improvement Science (Bryk, 2015)
  • Theories of culturally responsive and relational pedagogies (Bishop, 2019)
  • Methodologies for data-based decision making and improvement (Lai et al, 2020).

If you would like to find out more about the underlying theories, please contact us.

The approach has started in schools that use Reading Recovery teachers and reviewed throughout the term with feedback from teachers, Reading Recovery Teachers and Tutors, and academics.

Early Literacy support is being offered in consultation with Reading Recovery Trainers and Tutors, academics, school leaders and sector representatives from three Universities. 

The design principles of Early Literacy Support


Shared intervention between the teacher and Reading Recovery teacher is key.


Reading Recovery expertise and teacher expertise is jointly acknowledged.


Through collaboration, co-teaching and tailoring the content to students within their school environment, more students can be reached.  


Identified children are provided the opportunity for Early Literacy Support within groups, and if further support is needed a child will have one-on-one Reading Recovery instruction. 


Whānau are consulted to get a rich picture of the child, before teachers co-plan based on the profile of the group of children they have set. Consultation with whānau is ongoing. 


Assessment tools support the processes of designing instruction for the children. Agreed assessments included: Early Print Knowledge, Letter Identification, BURT© Word Reading Test, Writing Vocabulary, Reading Level. 

Mā te ahurei o te tamaiti ā tātou mahi e ārahi.

The thing that guides our work is the uniqueness of each and every child.

International success

The approaches employed in Early Literacy Supporthave been shown to be effective in other countries.

In the UK,  the Every Child a Reader programme has demonstrated the effectiveness of taking a three-tier approach of bringing the expertise of Reading Recovery to classrooms, groups, and individuals.* The approach has also been taken in the USA with research showing the approach is most effective when combined with individual and classroom instruction.**

*   Evaluation of Every Child a Reader 
** Effects in RTI Approaches

What is Reading Recovery?

A one-to-one literacy intervention that helps 6-year-old readers and writers catch up with their classmates. It has more than 40 years of research and evaluation results. Its effectiveness is supported by the strongest body of evidence for any literacy intervention.If you would like to learn more about Reading Recovery and why it is deemed one of the most effective literacy interventions in the world, click on the link below:

> Find out more

How does Phonics work with Early Literacy Support and Reading Recovery?

School literacy teams opting into Early Literacy Support and Reading Recovery retain complete autonomy over how they design their literacy programmes, and this may include structured phonics approaches. 

Early Literacy Support complements this by assessing broader aspects of literacy including comprehension of connected or continuous text. It supports classroom teachers to make responsive teaching decisions based on a child’s strengths. Here's what one school had to say about how they are using Rito Literacy alongside structured phonics: 

“Structured literacy (phonics) is part of what we are doing but not all of what we are doing. That’s because there is no one way of teaching children. The Rito Literacy group provides the flexibility to cater for children’s diversity.  Something that has arisen from Rito Literacy and our Junior team’s analysis of 6 year data is that we need to provide more writing opportunities over the week for children in year 1-3. The data shows that writing vocabulary is low and so is HRSW (Hearing and recording sounds in words) across the board, despite the Structured Literacy approach.” 

When a child enters Reading Recovery after a year at school, decoding is one of many areas of literacy that is focused on. Their Reading Recovery teacher assesses a broad range of literacy development areas such as letter identification, recognised words, writing  vocabulary, parts of a book, phonic knowledge, etc. When phonemic awareness is an area that needs support, the Reading Recovery teacher has a range of approachesinterventions they will use to improve this area.  

Get in touch with the Reading Recovery team today!
Whakapā mai / Contact us