After the fanfare

THERE is no earth-shattering nuggets of outstanding new practice or research in the latest folders of guidance on literacy and numeracy, issued by the Scottish Executive with some fanfare. Two ministers, Cathy Jamieson and Nicol Stephen, were present to highlight the initiative. But it is plain coverage of old ground, summary of existing policies and subtle reminders of what everyone should be doing to push the basics.

The difficulty, as evidenced by several studies, is sustaining early progress through the middle years of primary and on to secondary. Many pupils now at the upper end of primary missed the benefits of the revamped strategy and teachers' renewed commitment and continue to struggle with reading. Many secondaries in August will find pupils at levels A or B and unable to access the curriculum.

Within a few years, every pupil will have had the advantage of early intervention. The test will be whether illiteracy is eliminated. That would be an achievement.

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