This paper presents an evaluation of “Literacy for Life” (LfL) – a whole-school literacy programme, implemented in five secondary schools in England. The aims of LfL were to improve literacy attainment and to promote positive attitudes to reading and writing. However, when compared to other schools, there is little or no evidence that being in a LfL school, had any differential benefit for pupils’ attainment. In LfL schools, the gap for disadvantaged pupils and those with SEN grew in the early years of the intervention. There is also no evidence from repeated surveys that pupils’ attitudes to and enjoyment of reading showed any improvement. As such, LfL did not achieve its intended objectives. This matters because, despite limited evidence in its favour, schools continue to use it and programmes similar to it. We argue that programmes such as LfL, which are implemented on a whole-school level, need to be based upon evidence-informed approaches.