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What is Wave 3?

Wave 3 is a feature of the Primary National Strategy “Waves” model.  It is focused on enabling children with difficulties in literacy and/or mathematics to reach at least national curriculum level 1 at the end of KS1 and level 3 at the end of KS2 in English and Maths.

  • Wave 3 = targeted, individualised intervention for children who are working well below age-related expectations in literacy and/or mathematics – to accelerate progress.

A consistent message of effective practice is that high quality Wave 1 and Wave 2 provision is instrumental to effecting high achievement for all children, and can be preventative of the need for Wave 3 provision.

When is the use of Wave 3 intervention appropriate?

  • Not all children with special educational needs will require Wave 3 provision (eg pupils with Social Emotional Behavioural difficulties who are working at age-related expectations or where Wave 2 provision would be more appropriate). 
  • Wave 3 literacy intervention may/may not be appropriate for children with complex special educational needs who, for example, could be working within the P scales throughout their primary education.  Discussion with external professionals will support decision making in such instances.  High quality Wave 1 literacy provision will be appropriate.
  • Low-attaining pupils who do not have special educational needs  (such as traveller, gypsy-roma, looked after children) may benefit from Wave 2 and/or Wave 3 provision.
  • Advice should be sought from external professionals regarding the use of Wave 3 interventions for low-attaining pupils who are at the early stages of acquisition in speaking English as a second language.
  • NB Wave 1 quality first teaching is essential for all children regardless of the use of other interventions and provision.  Children will not make accelerated progress through the use of Wave 3 intervention only.



 Achievement & Standards

Wave 3 is focused on achievement for low attainers and reducing the

  • % of children achieving below Level 3 in English and Maths at the end of KS2 and
  • % of children achieving below Levels 1 and 2 at the end of KS1 in Reading, Writing and Maths.

Schools will be able to compare the achievement and standards data of their own school with a range of comparative national and local data. 

National and Hertfordshire data: Comparison 2002-2005 below Level 3

The following benchmarking achievement data is recommended by Ofsted:

“Supporting criteria for achievement:

  •  At least 80 % of pupils make the nationally expected gains of two levels or more at KS2
  • Pupils withdrawn for substantial literacy support make on average double the normal rate of progress”

Reviewing the progress of individual children is an essential component of a school`s action to raise the achievement of low attainers.  The following list of contextual information will support an evaluation of progress, identification of barriers to achievement and the provision made by a school to overcome these.

The following guidance doc supports a review of individual children`s progress against a range of measures – national curriculum levels, book bands, reading ages.


Targeting support: choosing and implementing interventions for children with significant literacy difficulties. Download from:

The following can be ordered through DfES publications (tel: 0845 60 222 60)

  • Supporting pupils with SEN in the literacy hour (DfES 0101/2000)
  • Including all children in the literacy hour and daily maths lesson, a management guide (DfES 0465/2002)
  • Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding – Wave 3 mathematics – teaching and learning resource (DfES 1168-2005 G)
  • What works for children with mathematical difficulties? (DfES research report 554). Download from:
  • Using models and images to support mathematics teaching and learning in Years 1 to 3 (DfES 0508-2003 GCD)
  • Guidance to support pupils with specific needs in the daily mathematics lesson (DfES 0545/2001)
  • SENCo Training Pack (Numeracy) (DfES 0256/2002) 
  • Learning and Teaching for Children with Special Educational Needs in the Primary School - DVD (DfES0320-2004G DVD)
  • Speaking, Listening, Learning: working with children who have special educational needs  (DfES 1187-2005 CDI G)

See also Hertfordshire guidance documents (on Inclusion/SEN site)

  • Guidelines for the Early Identification of Specific Literacy Difficulties
  • Developing Dyslexia Friendly Schools guidance
  • Specific Numeracy Difficulties

Self-Evaluation & Review

The attached proforma will support self-evaluation of the school`s work on Wave 3, achievement for low attainers in literacy.  The information gathered can be used to support the school`s SEF, subject leader/SENCo self-evaluation, provision mapping and action planning.  This can be used on an annual basis to review progress.  An exemplar action planning proforma is also attached.

Criterial for Schools, SENCos and Teachers in Relation to Raising Attainment in Literacy for Children with Special Educational Needs.

Gathering information from teachers, teaching assistants, pupils and parents will support school self-evaluation and action planning. 

Provision Mapping

Integral to a school`s work on maximising achievement for under-performing pupils in literacy and mathematics is the strategic management of Wave 2 and Wave 3 provision.  Provision mapping is a way of ensuring that provision is deployed transparently and consistently across the school and provides a clear picture of the school`s approach to tackling under-performance and best-value use of resources.  

The following document provides an example of how a school might draw up a provision map showing the Wave 2 and Wave 3 provision made for individual children across each year group.  This can be adapted according to provision made and individual children`s names added.

A case study of an individual child and her experience of literacy intervention through the school is available on the Primary Strategy website – publication “Leading on Inclusion”. 
See link below and look for handout 3.3