Clay’s Reading Gift
New Zealand-developed remedial programme Reading Recovery, devised by the late educationalist Dame Marie Clay, is proving successful in the UK with 30,000 British children a year expected to take part by 21. Under the programme eight out of ten struggling readers catch up with their classmates, and a study by the KPMG Foundation, an education charity that supports Every Child A Reader, has suggested that it saves the country £17 in social costs for every £1 spent. Though some critics complain the scheme is expensive and time-consuming, its proponents emphasise that Reading Recovery is about the children at the very, very bottom. Julia Douëtil, of the Reading Recovery National Network at the Institute of Education, says that these are not children who have failed to be taught phonics. “These are children for whom, for some reason, phonics hasn’t worked,” she says. Dame Marie Clay’s system is based upon teachers being trained to interpret pupil behaviour, and requires that they adjust their theories to the individual child. It has been implemented in most English-speaking countries. Marie Clay died in April 2007, aged 81.