“We welcome the opportunity to host this resource for the district’s education community and give teachers an additional centre for training,” says Colwill principal Rob Taylor. “It is very exciting to be collaborating with other schools like this.”

Reading Recovery teachers are trained to offer individual lessons for children around six years of age who are not getting underway with literacy learning. Schools can choose to offer the intervention, funded and supported by the Ministry of Education.

“In a short period, children catch up with their peers and continue to learn alongside them”, says Reading Recovery national trainer Dr Christine Boocock from the University of Auckland’s UniServices.

The subcentre at Colwill School is one of 28 training sites for Reading Recovery in New Zealand. The school has offered Reading Recovery since Mr Taylor took over as principal 15 years ago.

His experience with the early literacy intervention spans most of the 45 years he has worked in education.

“It is proven internationally that Reading Recovery makes a massive difference for children who are finding it difficult to read. There have been attempts to make changes, but the original Marie Clay model is still the best,” he says.

UniServices manages trainer and tutor services for the Ministry of Education. Reading Recovery Tutors from the team of seven based at the Auckland Reading Recovery Centre at Oranga will work with teachers at the new Colwill Subcentre.

Next year, 2019, marks 40 years of Reading Recovery in schools across New Zealand and in this time more than 300,000 children have been helped. The system was developed by New Zealand educator Dame Marie Clay and has been successfully adopted by all English-speaking countries.

New Zealand is hosting a special literacy conference celebrating 30 years of international professional collaboration in Reading Recovery. Kaitiakitanga: Nurturing Literate Futures will be held at the Aotea Centre, Auckland, 17-19 July 2019, for anyone interested in early literacy.


  1. Science tells us the reading recovery programme does not work. What children need is evidence-based instruction which is systematic and cumulative and has these 5 components: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. This article is nothing but irresponsible.

  2. I think there are studies showing RR has a positive effect on students. However, the question is compared to what given it is not based on the established science around reading. What would the effect on our struggling readers here in NZ be if systematic synthetic phonics was incorporated into whole class reading instruction and reading recovery? Maybe we wouldn’t be trailing so badly in the international literacy metrics.

  3. Did anybody ask Mr. Taylor to provide the references for his assertions that the Marie Clay model remains the best? Or for any of the claims regarding RR effectiveness? It is rather concerning that the article is so light on any critical analysis of what is being widely discussed in other coverage. Science is clear that what early struggling readers require is explicit, direct, systematic phonics instruction which Marie Clay advocated against in some of her writing. I don’t really understand why science is almost universally respected in the study of certain things have significant human impact (e.g. climate change) and yet can be practically ignored in others (e.g. education/instruction).

  4. Whilst the above so called teaching experts say there is no scientific proof that reading recovery is of any help to the children that get this help, I have some anicdotal evidence. My grandson had a period of reading rcovery and before he started he wouldn’t even pick up a book and then suddenly he can read just about everything and can work out words and undertand what the story is about.
    Thanks to all the reading recovery teachers and keep up the good worthwhile work

  5. We are 33rd in the world in PIRLS. We accept that only a small amount of children
    go into RR, we accept that kids learn to use pictures to guess words and we accept that they will drop back a couple of levels when they are discontinued. We also unwittingly accept that tens of millions of dollars are spent on this each year, and we accept that if kids don’t make the expected levels it’s the kids fault not the programme. Good grief. What a collossal waste of money. A well trained teacher who is trained in the Science of Reading will be more effective.


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