Page last updated at 09:21 GMT, Friday, 28 November 2008

'Good results' for reading scheme

Children in a library
The scheme has a high number of children from disadvantaged homes

Children who are struggling to read have made "spectacular" improvements under a reading scheme, academics say.

Results from a three-year pilot programme show on average pupils boosted their reading age by nearly two years in four or five months.

The scheme for six-year-olds, called Every Child a Reader, is being rolled out across England.

More than 5,000 pupils received one-to-one tuition for 30 minutes a day to help them catch up with their peers.

I am delighted to see the continued success of this vital programme
Schools Minister Jim Knight

The 10 million pilot scheme was monitored by the Institute of Education, University of London, which has just published its report on the third year of the programme.

Children following the programme for between 12 to 20 weeks made progress at well over four times the normal rate, researchers found.

Schools Minister Jim Knight said: "I am delighted to see the continued success of this vital programme for the most disadvantaged children who deserve the best from their schooling.

"We know the importance of getting literacy right in the early years of primary schools to ensure long term educational success and so are committed to rolling out this programme out over the next three years."

This year more than 13,000 children had benefited from the programme and this would rise to 30,000 by 2010/11, he said.

Founder of the initiative Jean Gross said: "These results are spectacular because the number of children involved in the final year of the programme nearly tripled, yet the results continue to be outstanding as the programme scales up. This augurs well for the national roll-out that has now begun."

Socially disadvantaged

The Every Child a Reader initiative was designed to reduce the 5.5% of children in England (about 30,000) who leave primary schools each year without even the most basic skills in English.

Among boys, 9% were in this category last year.

The children receiving reading recovery in 489 Every Child a Reader schools across the country and 60% were boys.

They tended to be socially disadvantaged, with just under half eligible for free school meals compared to a national average of less than one in six.

The programme has been funded jointly by charitable trusts, the business sector and government.

Under the scheme, children are assessed by specially trained teachers to see what methods will most suit them.

A mixture of teaching systems - including phonics - is used to boost children's abilities.

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