Reading scheme axed in cuts to school spending
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Monday 19 September 2011
A pioneering project which has switched thousands of struggling pupils on to reading is being axed in primary schools.
Research shows that the Reading Recovery Project, which involves daily one-to-one half-hour reading sessions with pupils, has had a major impact in boosting reading standards.
After 12 to 20 weeks in the scheme, five- to six-year-olds saw their reading ability increase by up to 20 months – an improvement which was sustained when they were tested a year later.
But schools are being forced to axe the project – or at least reduce the number of pupils to whom they offer it – because of a squeeze on school budgets, according to the National Association of Head Teachers.
Russell Hobby, the association's general secretary, described it as the single most important scheme in helping primary schools to tackle the reading problems of slow learners.
Research by London University's Institute of Education shows that at the end of the 20-week period, pupils on the Reading Recovery Project had improved their literacy by 20 months – compared with six months for pupils on other programmes. Tested a year later, it was shown that the children involved were keeping up in class.
Labour invested £144m in the scheme over a three-year period to train 18,000 teachers to deliver it. But Mr Hobby said that many schools were having to abandon it or reduce its impact because of the budget squeeze.
The Coalition Government has targeted resources on disadvantaged pupils, giving schools £430 extra for every pupil they educate entitled to free school meals. However, Mr Hobby said the money had not been enough to compensate for the loss of central funding for the scheme.
Heads say that the Government's plans to test five- and six-year-olds on their reading will be costly to run and that when the scheme was trialled in 300 schools, most teachers said they did not help to identify problem pupils.
The axing of the Reading Recovery Project in primary schools is only one of the effects being felt by the impact of the squeeze on spending.
Mr Hobby told of one school which was now accepting hand-me-down laptops and IT technology from parents and local firms, because its budget to supply technology had been reduced to just £4,000 a year. Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, singled out the removal of support for one-to-one teaching as having an obvious impact on learning.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said it was targeting pupils from deprived backgrounds through its £430 "pupil premium".
"We've secured the best possible settlement for schools considering the harsh economic situation and we've given schools complete freedom over every aspect of their budgets. We trust heads to know the needs of their own schools and where the money needs to be spent to make the biggest impact."
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
£40 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Nursery Nurse needed in salfordI a...
£25 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse needed in th...
£21588 - £31566 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...
£110 - £125 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are ur...