The Bridge to Fluency (Part 2)

The Bridge to Fluency: Piece by piece we put it together

Published interventions and curriculum based interventions (CBIs

While published interventions have tremendous merit, they typically follow principles all effective interventions adhere to. These principles are rarely unique to a specific programme. One benefit of these programmes is that they have been organised and structured according to a best-fit model to make planning and implementation easier, with research generally supporting their use.

Drawbacks of published programmes include:

- they are expensive to purchase

- are almost always extra-curricular

- often cost more to maintain and upgrade - there is little time available for effective implementation, and, as is the case for many interventions...

- the strategies and skills learnt do not generalise.

Easing the pressure

With continued budget pressures and specialist teachers few and far between, we need to re-engage with the principles of interventions and develop our awareness of how these can be delivered as effectively as possible. Our over-dependence on published interventions, rather than the principles that guide them, is no longer sustainable with schools struggling to find the finances, expertise, personnel, and time to administer these to a growing number of students.

Possible solutions?

Curriculum- based interventions (CBIs– often referred to as “curriculum-based measurement”) target multiple areas of reading fluency and rely on principles of interventions but cost little, if anything. Some degree of “training” is required, but this can be done on one’s own through a variety of tutorials available with a simple online search. Flexibility and use of a student’s existing curriculum and contexts make CBIs an attractive alternative, as does the fact they address fluency. Many interventions involved in CBIs are easy to use, cost nothing, and require only the creation of materials and photocopying. An online search of non-published evidence-based strategies such as repeated reading, incremental rehearsal, and supported cloze procedure will yield many results, including “how to” videos.

CBIs show us that students can improve their fluency and it does not have to cost a fortune. With an extensive evidence-base, CBIs have taken off in the USA where all schools have SEN-trained teachers who collaborate with their mainstream colleagues to administer interventions and differentiate lessons. Here in the UK, we have been caught on the back foot, with few mainstream teachers saying they feel equipped to address a growing number of learning needs (including reading) in their classrooms.

A return to the professionalisation of special education as a teacher-training route will also empower SENCOs and ensure schools are better prepared to build this bridge for a growing number of students requiring learning support. My own “blue-sky” thinking would see every school with an interventions teacher, trained in best-practice SEN across subjects and developmental ages.

All other English-speaking nations do this, highlighting the need for yet another bridge to be built between our education systems, even if this is a long-term goal.

For now, however, let’s build The Bridge to Fluency.

Future generations will thank us.