While there is evidence for effective in-school programmes
for struggling beginning readers, the evidence in relation to after-schools
interventions focusing on academic outcomes is particularly weak. This study
seeks to contribute to this body of evidence through a randomized trial (n=464)
of an after-school literacy programme (DoodleDen) for struggling beginning readers in a deprived area of Dublin, Ireland.
The programme based on a balanced literacy framework, was delivered in group
settings, and had a strong focus on staff development. Doodle Den was found to improve the children’s overall literacy (d=+0.17), teacher assessments of their literacy ability (d=+0.28) and to positively impact on problem behaviours in regular school class (d=-0.18). The implications for
the development of after-school programmes are discussed.