DEIS - Literacy and Numeracy programmes - descriptors

First Steps is a literacy resource for teachers researched and developed in Western Australia. It comprises a range of literacy strands in the areas of Reading, Writing, Spelling, and Oral Language. It is designed for schools and jurisdictions looking for a practical resource to improve student literacy outcomes at primary level. The strands adopted here in Ireland are:

  •  First Steps Writing
  • First Steps Reading
  • First Steps Speaking and Listening

First Steps has an in built diagnostic framework which allows teachers to assess where children are at in each if the 3 areas. Each phase of the continuum has direct links to appropriate teaching emphases and activities to support the student in moving further along the continuum.  A whole school approach is central to the success of the resource where all teachers learn how to assess and monitor the literacy development of their students and to link this assessment to developmentally appropriate teaching strategies.

First Steps was chosen by the Department of Education and Science  as part of the multi-faceted support provided for  urban schools in Ireland designated as disadvantaged under the Delivery Equality of Opportunity In Schools (DEIS) Action Plan (DES, 2005). These schools are asked to nominate members of staff to train as First Steps tutors towards disseminating the practice throughout the school. The tutor attends a training course for which sub cover is provided and receives these resources on training. Resources are supplied to the schools according to number of class teachers and schools are asked to implement the  three First Steps literacy resources in line with the objectives of the English Curriculum for Primary Schools. Ideally the three tutors collaborate at school level to develop an integrated approach to the three strands.

Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery is an intense research based early intervention to prevent reading failure developed in New Zealand by educator and psychologist Marie Clay.  Reading Recovery operates as an individually delivered series of lessons based on what each child can do as indicated by a battery of tests administered to children who show signs of struggling with reading and writing following one year of formal teaching. It provides one –to one teaching for the identified children for 30 minutes each day and is supplementary to on-going literacy activities in the classroom. Depending on how a child progresses, the support last for 8- 20 weeks. Reading Recovery is finding its way into the main stream class domain in recent times through programmes such as Literacy Lift Off and the Power Hour. Every school identified as designated disadvantaged under the DEIS initiative is asked to nominate one member of staff to train as the specialist Reading Recovery teacher . These are trained by Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders who operate from education centres throughout the country.

Maths Recovery

Maths Recovery is an early intervention programme focussing solely on the number aspect of mathematics developed by R.J. Wright in New South Wales. Maths Recovery comprises the intensive, individualised or small group teaching of low-attaining children from first class by specialist teachers for 10-15 weeks. During this time the child progresses through a stage of early arithmetical learning. Finding out where a child is at along this is done through an assessment tasks. The actual teaching comprises a lesson planned for each pupil and typical characteristics of the lessons are problem solving, teaching just beyond the cutting edge, and close observation of the child’s behaviours.

Every school identified as designated disadvantaged under the DEIS initiative is asked to nominate one member of staff to train as the specialist Maths Recovery teacher


Ready, Set, Go Maths

Ready, Set Go Maths was developed in Northern Ireland in the early 1990’s by educationalist Eunice Pitt. Its origins are rooted in a two-year action research project which identified use of mathematical language and purposefully designed activities the key factors in determining the successful teaching and learning of mathematics. It is a programme pitched at teachers of infant classes and focuses specifically on the development of early number skills and concepts. Typical components include Sorting, Making patterns, Early counting, and are all designed to give a secure start in early number. Teachers of infant classes in DEIS schools receive training in the resource and are expected to implement it in their classrooms in line with the objectives of the Mathematics Curriculum for Primary Schools.  


 teacher handbook is scripted to emphasis the importance of the teacher’s accurate use of mathematical language when giving instructions, asking questions and  explaining concepts. The handbook also contains a wealth of hands on collaborative teaching and learning experiences.