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Monday, July 12, 1999 Published at 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK


Extra money in chase to reach test targets

The government is struggling to meet its own targets on literacy

The government has announced £70m funding for 'booster' lessons for primary pupils, as schools struggle to meet targets.

Ambitious targets for English and maths test results have been set as key elements of government education policy - and the investment in extra classes will encourage schools to push harder to meet the government's goals.

[ image: Estelle Morris says booster lessons will bring the benefits of private tuition to those unable to afford it]
Estelle Morris says booster lessons will bring the benefits of private tuition to those unable to afford it
The latest injection of money will provide support lessons for 11-year-olds who need extra help, which will take place after school, at weekends or in the holidays, beginning from September.

These catch-up classes will target the age group which threatens to embarrass the government by not reaching targets by 2002.

The government wants 80% of 11-year-old pupils to reach the expected levels for their age in English and 75% in maths.

But in last year's test results, only 65% of 11-year-olds reached the necessary level at English, and in maths, test results slumped from 62% to 59%.

A report from the Office for Standards in Education, published last week, warned that primary schools were not improving at a sufficient rate to make it likely that they would achieve their targets.

However the Schools Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, has said that attainment will improve as the impact of literacy and numeracy initiatives begins to be felt.

The minister said that the booster lessons would make a "signicant contribution" to raising standards, offering the kind of extra lessons that were usually only available to those who paid for private tuition.

"For ages, those who could afford to have paid extra tuition for their children. Our boosters are provided to all children who need them - enabling them to make up weaknesses in the 3Rs in their primary years," said the minister.

The booster classes will run alongside other initiatives aimed at raising standards in English and maths, including the literacy and numeracy hours - in which an hour a day is dedicated to improving the basics of literacy and numeracy.

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