Page last updated at 23:03 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 00:03 UK

More pupils to get Three Rs help

Girl reading
Pupils will get intensive tailored support under the schemes

Struggling pupils are to get one-to-one help with the Three Rs under a trio of government-backed programmes beginning or being extended this term.

Two new schemes, Every Child a Writer and Every Child Counts, are being piloted in England and will be rolled out nationally by 2011.

And successful reading scheme, Every Child a Reader, is being rolled out to 30,000 of the worst-performing pupils.

Ministers hope the 169m schemes will help boost primary school results.

The government said that although standards have risen sharply over the last decade, a "step change" was now required so that its ambitious targets can be met.

'Leap forward'

England's Schools Secretary Ed Balls said this was an historic opportunity to make a "crucial breakthrough" in raising standards in the Three Rs.

They need to be well taught the skills of encoding for spelling so they can write words automatically, thus freeing them to think about how to construct text to make their meaning clear
Sir Jim Rose on boys' writing

Mr Balls said: "By intervening early and using the kind of personalised tuition and support through trained teachers that parents want, we're on the verge of something truly exciting happening in our classrooms which is supported at home.

"We are going to have to make a leap forward over the next decade, building on the significant increases we've had since 1997, if we are to achieve the world class education system I want to see, and achieve the ambitious target of having at least 90% of children achieving at or above the expected level in both English and maths at age 11, which I set out in our Children's Plan.

"Achieving this target would have a massive impact on the standard of education in this country and make us a world leader."

This year's results show that while performance in reading continues to rise with 86% reaching the expected level at the end of primary school, only just over two-thirds of pupils achieve the expected writing standards.

Boys are 14 percentage points behind girls.

Interests

The 25m Every Child a Writer scheme offers intensive support to pupils struggling with writing.

Teachers will focus on the common problems children face, such as sentence structure, punctuation, spelling and creativity.

It will be piloted with 2,500 children in 135 schools in nine local authority areas. And by 2011 a national roll-out will mean it reaches 45,000 children.

Typically about five or six children aged seven and eight in a school would receive intensive support of about 10 hours over 10 weeks - probably outside the school day.

Sir Jim Rose, who is currently reviewing the primary curriculum, said: "The choice of genre and topics for writing needs to capture young boys' interests.

"They need to be well taught the skills of encoding for spelling so they can write words automatically, this freeing them to think about how to construct text to make their meaning clear."

Progress

Every Child Counts offers six-year-old pupils intensive one-to-one tuition for half an hour a day for a period of 12 weeks.

It is being piloted in 21 local authorities and rolled out to 30,000 children or the bottom 5% in 1,900 schools over the next two years.

The Every Child a Reader scheme, which was developed by academics and the KPMG Foundation, offers intensive one-to-one support to five-year-olds having difficulties with reading.

Research by London University's Institute of Education suggests children completing the 20-week programme progress by an average of 21 months - or four times the usual rate.

The scheme will focus on the bottom 5% of readers aged five to seven and will be rolled out to 30,000 children in 3,000 schools in England by 2011.


SEE ALSO
Close help 'boosts slow readers'
06 Nov 06 |  Education
Reading system goes into schools
19 Jun 07 |  Education
Catch-up reading scheme 'success'
08 May 08 |  Education

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