Teaching reading: an integrated programme for deaf & hearing children

A pilot study to examine the effects of a fully integrated phonics and language whole-class approach to teaching reading in a sample of children, some of whom will be deaf.

Decoding (phonics) and language skills are essential for the development of reading comprehension. Current educational practice focusses on phonics, with less emphasis on language. Although many children progress with a phonics approach, a significant proportion struggle, particularly those with weak language skills. This includes many deaf children who are typically excluded from mainstream reading intervention research.


  • To investigate the effectiveness of the programme in enhancing children's knowledge of phonics, foundation language including vocabulary, and early reading skills in their first year of primary education as a basis for future learning. The programme will target phonics, vocabulary and literacy skills.
  • To investigate whether the sampling strategies are effective in recruiting schools and target numbers of children, and in obtaining parental consent.
  • To investigate the feasibility of training staff in selected schools to deliver the integrated programme effectively and fully incorporate it within the curriculum, monitoring teachers' adherence by regular fidelity checks.
  • To compare outcomes from the integrated programme with a control group of children receiving their standard school literacy programme after one year of the programme.
  • To investigate teachers' expectations and beliefs about children's literacy potential and to identify whether teaching staff change expectations, beliefs and practice as a result of the integrated programme.
  • To disseminate preliminary research evidence of the programme’s effectiveness to academics, service users and practitioners at academic and practitioner conferences, in peer-reviewed academic and practitioner journals


The researchers plan to recruit 16 deaf participants (oral and signing) in Reception classes from 4 schools and 104 same-aged hearing children from the same schools. The schools will be allocated randomly to intervention and waiting control groups. The intervention schools will implement the new integrated programme during their literacy hour and so all children in Reception classes in the intervention schools will receive the programme.

The researchers will train and support classroom teachers in the 2 intervention schools to implement the integrated programme in place of the schools’ literacy curriculum for a year with the children in their classes.

Word-level literacy and vocabulary will be measured at the start of the intervention and at the end of one year. 


It is anticipated that the integrated programme will improve children’s reading skills which are crucial to academic attainment and longer-term integration into society.

If the pilot is successful, the researchers will pursue conducting a full evaluation.

Project details



Dr Ros Herman, City, University of London

Grant amount and duration:


June 2018 - September 2019