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Phonics foray to France

THE French government cast its eye this week towards West Dunbartonshire. A national conference in Montpellier on the prevention of delinquency heard on Wednesday from Tommy MacKay, the consultant psychologist who has been working with the council to improve literacy "from the cradle to the grave".

More than 2,000 delegates heard that the all-embracing nature of the West Dunbartonshire approach is one of its distinctive features. Mr MacKay has advised a third of Scottish authorities on literacy programmes.

A phonics programme in nine primaries boosted recognition of letter sounds by between 16 per cent and 152 per cent in one year. Some 4,000 children were assessed in their pre-school year and the first two years of primary.

Speaking before setting out for France, Mr MacKay said: "There is a common chain in which the main links are poverty, negative values regarding school, underachievement, low self-esteem, alienation, social exclusion, absenteeism and delinquency. This is the chain we intend to break."

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