Department for Education
Education Endowment Foundation

We invite state-funded schools offering Year 6 cohorts in 2024 to take part in a funded trial of HFL Education’s KS2 Reading Fluency Project


What is HFL Education’s KS2 Reading Fluency Project?

Reading fluency core strategiesHFL Education’s KS2 Reading Fluency Project is a targeted intervention designed to improve reading comprehension for pupils identified as working below age-related expectations in reading in upper Key Stage 2. It is designed to improve outcomes in pupils’ reading comprehension through improving fluent reading of age-appropriate texts, with a particular focus on improving prosody.

HFL Education’s KS2 Reading Fluency Project supports effective fluency instruction through the considered implementation of six core strategies: 

  • Modelled expert prosody
  • Echo reading                 
  • Repeated reading
  • Text marking 
  • Performance read
  • Modelling comprehension


Who is funding this trial and why?

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) identified developing reading fluency as a high impact approach in their KS2 Literacy Guidance Report; furthermore, reading fluency is referenced repeatedly in The Reading Framework, published by the Department for Education in July 2021, and updated with further references to reading fluency in September 2023.

Given the importance of reading comprehension and the promise of the KS2 Reading Fluency Project, the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) have commissioned a study to understand the impact of this approach on pupils at scale. The funding for this programme and evaluation is from DfE’s Accelerator Fund, which aims to expand the use of evidence-based programmes.


How will the KS2 Reading Fluency Project be trialled?

The trial will focus exclusively on the impact of the intervention on Year 6 pupils. 

Participating schools will be randomly allocated to either the ‘treatment’ group – who will receive the Reading Fluency Project training and deliver the intervention – or the ‘control’ group – who will not receive the training or deliver the intervention but will assist in data collection.

This random assignment makes sure that the ‘treatment group’ and the ‘control group’ are as similar as possible, with the only difference being that schools in the ‘treatment group’ have delivered the Reading Fluency approach and those in the control group have not. By comparing the results between both groups, we can learn how well the intervention worked. 


What are the benefits to my school of participating in this trial?

All schools participating in this study will help us build the evidence base about what works well to improve reading comprehension, which will be used to help pupils and colleagues across the sector. Participating schools will be informed of their allocation to either ‘treatment’ or ‘control’ group in July 2024.

Treatment school benefits

Schools allocated to the treatment group will:

  • Receive HFL Education’s KS2 Reading Fluency Project intervention training at a significantly reduced cost of £350 (standard price £850), including: 
    - Access to approximately 18 hours of high-quality CPD across Autumn/Spring Term 2024 for two teachers, delivered by experienced project advisers from HFL Education Primary English team;
    - Guidance and ongoing support from HFL Education project advisers to deliver the KS2 Reading Fluency Project to struggling readers in Y6, including a remote support visit to reinforce best practice.
  • Be provided with the specified assessment tool: York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC) Primary Passage Reading Set (worth approximately £230).

Control school benefits

Schools allocated to the control group will:

  • Receive £500 'thank you' payment to help cover administrative expenses related to participation; (conditional on continued engagement throughout the trial and paid after all evaluation activities have been completed in March 2025);
  • Be guaranteed a place on a future round of HFL Education’s KS2 Reading Fluency Project across academic year 2025-6 at a discounted price of £650 (standard price £850).

All schools taking part in the trial (treatment and control group schools) will receive the scores achieved by the participating pupils from the assessment activities undertaken as part of the trial. 



Which schools are eligible to take part in this trial?

Schools must meet the following eligibility criteria to qualify for a place on the trial:

  • Are a state-funded school in England;
  • Will have a Y6 cohort in autumn 2024;  
    i. Within this cohort, schools must be able to identify 6-8 pupils who meet the following criteria (more detailed guidance on pupil selection will be shared with schools who secure a place on the trial):
    o    Are assessed as being not on track to meet age-related expectations in reading at the end of KS2;
    o    Are not able to demonstrate adequate comprehension of texts deemed to be in line with age-related expectations; 
    o    Passed the Phonics Screening Check (PSC) in year 1 or 2 and/or are now able to decode individual words in a similar assessment.
  • Are not taking part in any of the EEF trials listed below:
    ii. Fixing Fluency
    iii. Reading Plus
  • Have not taken part in KS1 or KS2 Reading Fluency Project training delivered by HFL Education (or delivered in collaboration with one of our national partners) within the last 3 years. 


When will the trial take place?

Schools allocated to the treatment group will engage in the KS2 Reading Fluency Project training and delivery across autumn/spring term 2024; schools who wish to take part in the trial will need to sign up by May 2024 (sign up may close before this date as participation will work on a first come, first served basis) and select the 6-8 pupils from their upcoming Y6 cohort in June 2024.

Sign up has now closed as we are fully recruited but if you want to hear more about training opportunities for KS2 reading fluency, please complete the expression of interest form below.


Further information

The schools’ information sheet provides more detail on the how the EEF funded trial will work for schools in the trial or control group. It also includes the full timetable for the trial which will start in 2024, with the final report due in the summer of 2026.

A webinar was held on the 17th January 2024 providing details about the trial and how to join.  


KS2 Reading Fluency Project Education - EEF Trial information webinar 17th January 2024
What is reading fluency? Penny Slater, Education Development and Partnership Lead (Primary English specialist)
KS2 Reading Fluency Project aims - Penny Slater, Education Development and Partnership Lead (Primary English specialist)

Winter Garden Academy KS2 pupil reading pre and post KS2 Reading Fluency Project


How much release time will I need to allow for my teachers to take part in the trial?

All schools will need to allow time in summer 2024 to select 6-8 target pupils. HFL Education will supply additional supportive guidance on which pupils to select in due course. The selection process should be led by the Year 5 teacher, plus the English Subject Leader/Reading Lead, in collaboration with the Year 6 teacher, who will be responsible for attending the CPD and delivering the intervention in autumn 20245. Schools should consider allowing approximately 2 hours for pupil selection. 

Treatment group schools

Schools allocated to the Treatment Group will need to allow time for the Year 6 teacher and English Subject Leader/Reading Lead to attend the CPD sessions; the CPD equates to approximately 1.5 days per participant.

In addition, Year 6 teachers will need to conduct initial assessment (including a YARC assessment) with each project pupil before beginning the intervention; schools should allow approximately 20 minutes per pupils to conduct the YARC assessment. 

A small selection of case study schools will also be approached to participate in the Implementation and Process Evaluation, which would include an visit by a Verian researcher for half a day (to include observation of a Project session, a 45-minute interview with the Year 6 teacher, and an interview with 2-3 pupils). We estimate that this would equate to approximately half a day for the Year 6 teacher and Subject Leader. 

Treatment and control group schools

All schools will be required to undertake the evaluation activities, which will primarily involve allowing an ACER UK assessor into your school for a day in February 2025 and facilitating the assessor conducting one-on-one assessments with the 6-8 pupils selected for the Project.

Year 6 teachers at all schools will also be asked to respond to a short questionnaire at three points in the year, in September 2024, February 2025, and July 2025. This questionnaire will take about 10-15 minutes to complete each time.

How will we know which pupils to select?

The HFL Education project team will provide clear guidance on selection criteria in advance of the pupil selection period (June 2024).

As a guide in the interim, schools will be asked to select 6-8 pupils who demonstrate a weakness in reading comprehension; pupils will be working below age-related expectations in reading and are deemed to be not on track to meet the Expected Standard (EXS) in reading by the end of Year 6; in addition, pupils should have passed the Phonics Screening Check in either Year 1 or Year 2 and/or are now able to decode individual words in a similar assessment. Further detail to support selection will be provided to schools when they have secured a place on the trial.  

When in the school day should we deliver the intervention?

The intervention involves teachers working with the identified pupils for twenty minutes, twice a week, for 8 consecutive weeks.

Ultimately, it is up to the school to decide when best to deliver the intervention sessions, but most primary schools choose to deliver the sessions during daily reading time, often called Guided Reading time.

Pupils who are selected for the intervention and are still working through the school’s Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme must continue to receive this teaching and therefore, the intervention should not be scheduled at the same time as this input. 

The DfE acknowledges the challenge of finding a suitable time and space to deliver interventions within the school day and offers some useful guidance in The Reading Framework: Organising and teaching catch up, p.75:

‘Although, ideally, in primary and secondary schools, reading interventions would be timetabled outside lesson time, this is not always possible. But since good reading is essential if pupils are to access the full curriculum, schools will need to make difficult choices about what activities pupils have to miss.’

If we are allocated to the control group, can we continue to use fluency strategies as part of our pedagogy?

Yes – the intention is that schools allocated to the control group will continue operating ‘business as usual’ (BAU). If the school/teacher is already using fluency strategies as part of their teaching, this should continue. The evaluation team will be conducting activities to determine what ‘BAU’ looks like in these schools.

However, the eligibility criteria must be adhered to, meaning that schools who have taken part in HFL Education’s KS1 or KS2 Reading Fluency Project within the last 3 years cannot apply. It is unlikely therefore that a school in the control group will be running a targeted fluency intervention for pupils working below age-related expectations.

How can I find out if my school has taken part in HFL Education’s Reading Fluency Project in the last 3 years?

The HFL Education project team keeps records of past participants; please get in touch via and we will help you. 

Can we stop/remove our school from the trial at any time?

In order to ensure the validity of this trial, it is important that each participating school delivers the Project (if allocated to the treatment group) and facilitates the evaluation activities. Schools will be asked to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which clearly outlines their commitment to the evaluation; school leaders must read this document carefully before signing to ensure they understand the Project requirements.  

If a school decides not to continue delivering the intervention (if allocated to the treatment group), this will dilute the effect of the intervention and may mean we fail to confirm if and how well the Project works. This would disadvantage all schools and pupils who would benefit from the Project, and similar approaches, in the future. Schools will therefore be encouraged to continue with delivering the intervention for the specified period. 

If a situation arises whereby a school believes they can no longer continue to participate in the Project delivery they must contact their allocated project adviser who will be on hand to support with any delivery challenges they may face throughout the Project period. A refund of the school contribution will not be provided if a school decides to not continue with the delivery of the Project.

If a school in the treatment group withdraws from the Project delivery, they will still be expected to take part in the evaluation activities outlined in this document. 

Why don’t the Control Group Schools do a baseline YARC assessment? How will progress from pre to post assessment be measured if the control group do not undertake baseline assessments?

This is a comparative evaluation whereby the end point of the control group pupils will be compared with the end point of the pupils in the treatment group. This can is a more robust approach than comparing a baseline and an endline assessment, as such a comparison would not allow us to distinguish between the effect of the project and the effect of other changes that happened to occur during the Project period.  

The baseline YARC assessment is administered by schools in the treatment group as part of the standard Project design and is intended to help the Year 6 teacher deliver the Project and not as part of the evaluation. For this reason, schools in the control group will not administer a baseline YARC assessment. 

Can parents/guardians request removal of their child from the Project?

Schools should follow their usual protocols in regard to informing parents about their child’s involvement in the Project and why they have been selected to take part in this intervention; however, in addition, schools must inform parents about the trial of the Project, including outlining the evaluation activities that will take place, and the data that will be collected about their child.  This information is included in the Parent Information Sheet, which will be provided for schools.  

Parents may choose to opt their child out of being part of the evaluation of the Project, meaning that no personal data would be collected by ACER UK or Verian in relation to that pupil. Parents will be given the opportunity to opt their child out of the study when they receive the Parent Information Sheet in July 2024, and will be provided with contact information to opt out of the evaluation at any stage if they so wish.. 

DFE and EEF evaluation of the HFL Education KS2 Reading Fluency Project

The number of school places is limited so sign up as soon as possible!

Contact us today to find out more about the HFL Reading Fluency Project