Primary teachers to help older pupils

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The Independent Online

Primary teachers are to be drafted into secondary schools across Scotland to tackle pupils' poor command of basic maths and English.

Primary teachers are to be drafted into secondary schools across Scotland to tackle pupils' poor command of basic maths and English.

Falling standards have made it hard for many pupils to make the transition from primary to secondary schools. And the Scottish Executive now wants to give pupils a course in basic skills before they enter third year of secondary school and begin studying for Standard Grades.

Five pilot schemes - the first in Britain - are to be implemented in Glasgow, north Lanarkshire and east Ayrshire. If successful, the schemes could be rolled out across the country within 12 months, the Scottish Executive said. The idea is to ensure that, by the end of their second year, all pupils will attain the basic skills needed to tackle the Standard Grades curriculum.

The scheme identifies pupils who have made the least progress in primary school and arranges for them to receive lessons in literacy and numeracy from a primary-trained teacher during the first and second years of secondary school. An earlier pilot scheme in Glasgow, which has been running for almost two years at the city's Eastbank Academy, appears to have paid dividends, with pupils appearing to make better progress than would have otherwise been the case.

Ministers are keen to explore the idea as part of their plans to modernise secondary schools, and 20 primary teachers in north Lanarkshire are being offered a new qualification allowing them to work with pupils from primary year 6 to secondary year 2.

In addition, six secondary teachers have been appointed as literacy and numeracy coaches to help teach P7 pupils.

"The crucial early years of secondary are often the ones when too many pupils fall behind, lose their motivation and begin to disengage from learning," said the Education Minister, Peter Peacock. "We have to find ways of building on the progress which pupils make in primary so that every child gets the best possible chance to succeed."

By reducing the number of teachers that pupils encounter and by delivering elements of the secondary curriculum using primary methods, it is hoped that pupil transition from primary to secondary will be eased.

Steven Purcell, education services convener at Glasgow City Council said: "Eastbank Academy has been leading the way in this area and we are delighted that schools in other areas of Scotland are now piloting a similar scheme."

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