From Level 1 to 18: Reading Recovery Sparks a Love of Reading for Eifion

November 29, 2022
Ebbett Park School’s one-to-one Reading Recovery intervention accelerates six-year-old Eifion through 17 reading levels in 20 weeks.

When Eifion Farrell moved to Ebbett Park School, he could not hear medial or final sounds when recording a composed story and suffered from low self-esteem. 

Aged six years and eight months, he was an emergent reader working at Level 1 who couldn’t one-to-one match words.

To get around the fact he couldn’t read, Eifion had been memorising books. As the class progressed this became impossible for him and he grew extremely frustrated.

However, his low self esteem and frustration are now a thing of the past following a successful Reading Recovering intervention, which has seen Eifion move from Level 1 to level 18 over 20 weeks. 

A year and a half after he first engaged with Reading Recovery, he is reading at the age of an average 13-year-old and it is now a source of joy. 

Early intervention is key

Eifion’s Mum, Hannah Chandler, says they moved him from his previous school because he was not making progress and, as a result, had developed behavioural problems. 

Ebbett Park School offers Reading Recovery to around 80 percent of children who require a more individualised approach to their literacy progress.

Students who are not getting underway as expected are assessed with a range of early assessment tasks, and the Reading Recovery teacher plans activities targeting their unique needs.

Reading Recovery teacher Anna Bush says Eifion began the intervention not knowing all of the alphabet “and could only write five words”.


The intervention involves working one-on-one with a student for 30 minutes each school day for up to 20 weeks. 

During this time, whānau are encouraged to observe a Reading Recovery lesson to see what it looks like and to connect with strategies to use at home. 

“I also ask the classroom teacher to observe as it can help with their professional literacy development,” says Anna. 

A life-changing experience

Reading Recovery is the world’s most widely-studied early intervention for students struggling with literacy.

Hannah is amazed and gratified at the change in Eifion since he began Reading Recovery.

“Eifion is now reading basically anything I put in front of him, and his writing is also now at the level it should be.”

For Eifion, who is on the autism spectrum, it has been a life-changing experience.

His self-esteem has improved, and his behavioural problems have largely been replaced with a “can-do attitude" where he is now happy to come to school.

His reading has become a source of joy and relaxation for him - so much so that Hannah has had to purchase Eifion a sturdier backpack to support the number of books he now likes to carry! 

Eifion has worked hard to turn his challenges into opportunities. At school, his enthusiasm for reading is now shared with junior kids, where he reads to them and also displays increased patience with other children struggling with literacy.

Focusing on a book has also proved to be helpful for Eifion to manage his emotions as part of his autism journey. When we spoke to him about sharing his story here, he said he was looking forward to reading the article!

The confidence gained through Reading Recovery has been invaluable, from an educational point of view, and for Eifion's self-esteem as a contributing member of his kura.

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