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Literacy booster classes move into mainstream

Extra tuition in reading and numeracy will no longer have to take place outside school hours following complaints from teachers, Frances Rafferty reports.

THE Government has changed the rules so literacy and numeracy booster classes can take place during school hours.

Bowing to pressure from schools and local authorities, Michael Barber, head of the Department for Education and Employment's standards and effectiveness unit, has said the lessons, giving extra tuition for children preparing for key stage 2 tests, do not have to take place out of hours.

The guidance now reads: "The Government has made an additional pound;18 million available to LEAs to delegate to schools. We have now decided the grant can be used to pay the salary and associated cost of teacher and other adults (eg classroom assistants), both within and outside normal teaching hours."

In his letter to chief education officers, Mr Barber said a substantial number of local authorities had complained the original advice was too restrictive.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "We have been besieged by enquiries about this scheme and we welcome the Government backing down in recognition of the realities of school organisation. Heads should be able to use the money to suit the needs of their children."

David Nix, assistant director of education for East Sussex, said: "We were concerned because we cannot compel pupils to attend or teachers to teach out of hours. It also meant that children in rural areas, who catch buses home, would have missed out."

Each school which is eligible in the authority will receive pound;500, plus pound;88 per pupil, to provide extra support during the school day.

The booster classes have been introduced to help the Government to meet its targets of 80 per cent of 11-year-olds meeting the required standard in literacy - and 75 per cent in maths - by 2002.

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