The Secondary Intervention Resource Finder can be used to take you quickly to key programmes and resources for use with pupils.

Intervention is an integral part of a school's curriculum provision and is a key element of personalised learning. It is any action planned to improve the progress of pupils who are at risk of not fulfilling their potential, whether that be pupils struggling to keep up or more able pupils who are not achieving what they are capable of. Effective intervention helps pupils make up shortfalls in their learning and accelerates their progress.

Tailored intervention support includes:

  • teaching in main lessons that meets pupils' specific learning needs
  • additional programmes and/or planned support that are designed to secure learning and accelerate progress
  • opportunities to apply and consolidate new learning across the curriculum.

Schools that are successful and strategic in planning intervention provision:

  • use data, including periodic assessment – for example Assessing Pupils' Progress (APP) – to track the progress of all pupils, and to identify individuals and groups of children who are not making sufficient progress. Follow the links to Assessing Pupils' Progress web area: secondary.
  • map the provision for intervention against need rather than established practice.
  • support the planning of the appropriate and effective use of wave 2 and wave 3 interventions.
  • enable learners to progress beyond the norms expected for their year group where appropriate.
  • monitor and evaluate the progress of pupils supported by intervention programmes, and modify or abandon those which are not showing successful impact.

More information can be found in the Personalised Learning: a practical guide document which was developed to support schools in implementing personalised learning and to help them move to a system based on progression, underpinned by assessment for learning, with relevant interventions such as one-to-one support.

Evidence of what works

The Secondary Intervention Resource Finder can be used to take you quickly to key programmes and resources for use with pupils.

Both independent research and the findings of monitoring and evaluation by the National Strategies have identified the following characteristics of effectively managed and delivered intervention strategies.

  • They operate in the context of and in addition to high-quality teaching during the normal provision for teaching in English and mathematics.
  • They operate in the context of a strategically managed and data-driven whole-school approach to intervention and tailored support.
  • They are based on the detailed assessment of individual pupil progress for English and mathematics, for example, by using the Assessing Pupils' Progress (APP) approach.
  • They follow a structured programme which is fast paced, time limited and monitored and evaluated for quality and extent of impact on learning and progress.
  • They involve a close partnership between the class/subject teacher and teaching assistant/intervention tutor.
  • They require the support of trained and skilled staff.
  • They may draw on programmes of support which have robust evidence of impact on progress.

Use this link to What works for pupils with literacy difficulties? for a thorough and detailed account of research into the effectiveness of intervention schemes that have been devised to help struggling readers and writers. This research will support and inform schools' choices among such schemes.

Use this link to What works for children with mathematical difficulties? The effectiveness of intervention schemes for a thorough and detailed independent review of research into the effectiveness of intervention materials and programmes currently in use in England. This carries a robust evidence base in terms of measurable impact on children's learning and progress.

Further useful information on the subject can be found by following the link to: Study Plus: Evidence of impact.


The Secondary Intervention Resource Finder can be used to take you quickly to key programmes and resources for use with pupils.

A whole-school approach

Schools that successfully help all pupils to make good progress:

  • use data to track progress
  • focus rigorously on ensuring the quality of teaching and learning in mainstream lessons
  • construct a carefully monitored whole-school intervention plan to support those pupils who will benefit from additional support.

Good practice involves adopting a systematic approach across the whole school based on three waves of teaching and intervention:

Wave 1: Inclusive quality first teaching for all

Wave 2: Wave 1 plus additional small group interventions: programmes and/or planned support designed to accelerate learning

Wave 3: Wave 1 plus additional highly personalised interventions.

The waves model provides a useful management tool to support curriculum planning, inclusive teaching and personalised approaches to address diverse needs.

Intervention provision mapping

One way of planning to meet the identified needs of pupils is to construct a provision map. This is a management tool that details the range of provision the school makes for pupils with additional needs, and that provides an at-a-glance picture of what is planned or in place. Provision maps can form the basis for monitoring and evaluation of the quality and impact of interventions used by a school. They also enable the schools to show parents and pupils what support is available.

Resources for secondary

Use the link to the secondary guidance Pupils not Programmes: leading and managing intervention in English and mathematics' to find out more about how to make use of National Strategies resources as part of a strategic whole-school approach.

There are essential guidance and resources to support senior leaders in implementing rapid and effective improvement by focusing on strengthening intervention provision in the Stronger Management Systems, and Core Plus: English; Core Plus: mathematics; Core Plus: science materials.

Professional development resources

A successful whole-school approach to intervention is more likely to be successful and to sustain itself if it is part of a systematic approach to professional development. Follow the links to Leading on Intervention: Professional development modules and Secondary Intervention: Training modules – overview to see a range of CPD resources that you and your staff can use to strengthen your skills and understanding of effective intervention.

Pedagogy: Key teaching and learning approaches

The Secondary Intervention Resource Finder can be used to take you quickly to key programmes and resources for use with pupils.

Intervention is most effective when it is delivered early, and is sharply paced, focused and frequent.

Key features of lesson/session design:

  • Teaching is focused and structured so that pupils know what is to be learned and how, and how this fits with what they know and can do already.
  • Teaching concentrates on the misconceptions, gaps or weaknesses that pupils have, and builds in some extra consolidation.
  • Pupils are motivated with pace, dialogue, and stimulating activities.
  • Day-to-day assessment for learning strategies are used by teachers and pupils so that subsequent sessions can be tailored to pupils' needs.
  • Teachers have high expectations of the effort pupils will need to make.

One useful approach to planning lessons or sessions draws on a teaching sequence that structures learning in a series of steps or episodes:

  • Remember: Teachers identify the prior knowledge on which the session will build and make explicit the knowledge, strategies and skills that will be used and developed.
  • Model: Teachers act as the expert by demonstrating the process or learning to be developed and talking it through.
  • Try: Pupils explore the activity independently.
  • Apply: Teaching addresses misconceptions at the point of misconception. Through discussion, revise and refine the pupils' knowledge, understanding and skills.
  • Secure: Pupils consolidate learning through further practice and discussion.
  • Review: Pupils reflect on the progress made towards the learning objective, the strategies used, and how the skills and knowledge can be applied in other lessons.

Related resources:

The Pedagogy and personalisation booklet, based on the wide-ranging work of the National Strategies over recent years in the field of teaching and learning, is intended to make a contribution to a more developed view of pedagogy and thus an increased sense of informed professionalism.

The Developing one-to-one tuition: Guidance for tutors booklet offers practical advice to support the planning and delivery of effective one-to-one tuition sessions.