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Why should intervention for next year’s SATs start now?

By 3rd June 2016Blog



This year’s SATs may seem as if they have just finished, and the halcyon days of the summer team may seem to have just arrived, but you need to be thinking about your year 5s now. Why? Time. Time is precious in school.

  • There are roughly 177 teaching days until the start of SATs 2017
  • Or 885 teaching hours in total

How many of those teaching hours are taken up by other things: school plays, trips, residentials? If you don’t start preparing pupils now then 35 days or 175 hours or 20% of teaching time will be lost.

The earlier the intervention the better

Research has shown that the earlier Intervention starts the more effective it is. Early intervention, monitoring of pupil progress, tailoring teaching to the appropriate needs of individual pupils, coaching, cognitive approaches, one-to-one tuition, and study support all work better if they are started before panic sets in. The old adage “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is never truer in Intervention.

Intervention Strategies

Intervention strategies using the government model of The Three Waves should be planned, monitored and evaluated. Started early, the panic of throwing everything, but the kitchen sink at the key pupils, so that it is not clear what is effective and what is not, creates stress and a muddle for everyone, the child included.


The Three Waves

Effective inclusive provision has been summarised in the National Strategy ‘waves’ model, which describes a strategic approach to teaching and additional intervention designed to minimise underachievement for all learners. The ‘waves’ model can be extended to incorporate additional challenge for all learners, including gifted and talented learners, and can be used as a strategic approach to developing the broader idea of personalisation.

Wave 1 – Quality First Teaching

High-quality inclusive teaching is supported by effective whole-school policies and frameworks, clearly targeted at all learners’ needs and prior learning. This teaching needs to be based in planning and schemes of work that are designed to move all learners from where they are to where they need to be. Where there are large numbers of learners who share the same learning needs, the best solution is to adjust the planning to cater for them. It means setting a new trajectory for the learning programme to take learners to where they need to be in terms of age-related expectations. Effective Wave 1 teaching anticipates the needs of learners based on good use of yearly transition data and information.

When applied to early reading, this means the provision of a rich language curriculum that fosters all four interdependent strands of language – speaking, listening, reading and writing – while providing access for all children to high-quality phonic work as part of Quality rst teaching.

Wave 2 – Wave 1 plus additional, time-limited, tailored intervention support programmes

Wave 2 provision is designed to increase rates of progress and secure learning for groups of learners
that puts them back on course to meet or exceed national expectations. This usually takes the form of
a tight, structured programme of small-group support that has an evidence base of impact on progress. This support is carefully targeted according to analysis of need and is delivered by teachers or teaching assistants (TAs) who have the skills to help learners achieve their learning objectives. The progress of learners is closely tracked for impact. This support can occur outside (but in addition to) whole-class lessons, or be built into mainstream lessons as part of guided work. Critically, intervention support needs to help children and young people apply their learning in mainstream lessons, and to ensure that motivation and progress in learning are sustained. The outcome of Wave 2 intervention is for learners to be back on track to meet or exceed national expectations at the end of the key stage.

Wave 3 – Wave 1 plus increasingly individualised programmes, based on independent evidence of what works

Expectations are to accelerate and maximise progress and to minimise performance gaps. This may involve support from a specialist teacher, highly trained teaching assistant or academic mentor delivered one-to-one or to small groups to support learners towards the achievement of very specific targets.

What works for children and young people with literacy difficulties?

Greg Brooks


What does this mean in practice?


The Three Waves What does that mean? Example
Wave 1 – Quality teaching Teaching based on the needs of the pupils, which is data-focused, integrated and with high expectations.

Provision of a curriculum that fosters language within an interesting context.

Using the principles of  “No Nonsense Grammar” as a basis for teaching grammar throughout KS1 and KS2.
Wave 2 – Teaching plus Intervention Support Programme Short term intervention programmes designed to increase rates of progress and secure learning. May be teacher or teaching assistant led, outside and in addition to whole-class lessons. A.R.R.O.W

Cued Spelling


Read Write Inc

Reciprocal Reading


Wave 3- Teaching plus increasingly individualized programmes Long term programmes designed to accelerate and maximize progress and narrow attainment gaps between groups of students. Teacher or teaching assistant led, outside of whole-class lessons. FFT Wave 3

Enable Plus

Reciprocal Teaching

Reading Recovery




Which intervention strategies should you use?


Intervention Strategies should be chosen depending on the data, the specific needs of the pupils and what you are trying to achieve. For example, only SkillsMastery specifically targets grammar and many interventions are suitable for SEN or lower attainers, what about higher attainers whose progress is not fast enough? Before starting on an intervention programmes you should be able to answer these questions:

  1. Which pupils?
  2. Why?
  3. What do they specifically need to catch-up or progress with?
  4. Which wave of intervention?
  5. Which intervention programme?
  6. Who is going to deliver?
  7. How do you know if it has been successful?
  8. When are you going to monitor?
  9. What happens if that strategy is not as efficacious as you hoped?
  10. Will your budget support your strategy? If not, where could you appropriate the budget from?

Interventions for Literacy is an excellent resources to help with the planning and evaluation of various literacy interventions.




Intervention Strategies should be started now and should be planned for.

Intervention Strategies should motivate, teach, coach and inspire pupils. They should also enable a clear vision and involve team work. Pupils will not learn if they do not want to, so part of any Intervention Programme must focus on the soft qualitative skills as well as the hard quantitative skills.

All intervention strategies should be accompanied by a robust plan of monitoring, analysis and evaluation to ensure that learning and progress is occurring. If it is not then be prepared to try something different.


Do you want an editable Intervention Checklist? Click here