Catch-up class plan for poor pupils


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The Independent Online

Poor children who are behind in reading and writing are to be offered catch-up lessons before they start secondary school, it was announced today.

Under the £10 million scheme, disadvantaged pupils who fail to reach Level 4 in English by the end of primary school will be given the chance to take part.

Last year, around 100,000 11-year-olds in total did not reach this level - the standard expected of the age group, according to Department for Education (DfE) figures.

Pupils who are eligible for free school meals or are looked-after children will have access to the classes.

Ministers said the move, which is being funded through the pupil premium, is part of a bid to narrow the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and their richer classmates.

It comes amid concerns that some children can fall behind, or struggle to make the move between primary and secondary school.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Reading with confidence is the basis of a good education and to unlocking everything the school curriculum has to offer.

"Every child should start secondary school with a head start - not a false start."

Organisations such as schools, councils and charities are being asked to bid for funding to run the literacy catch-up classes.

The first projects will start this September, and the rest from next year, the DfE said.

The pupil premium, a key initiative for the coalition Government, is extra funding attached to disadvantaged children, following them as they move schools.

It is given to pupils who are eligible for FSM with the aim of closing the achievement gap between richer and poorer youngsters.