When 791 pupils in 23 schools serving disadvantaged areas were tested last October, their reading age was four months behind their chronological age. Tested again in June, their reading had leapt ahead of their age by five months.
A group of 118 children in four primaries not involved were one month better initially but fell behind by two months by June. They were still ahead of their chronological age but had not made such significant gains.
Noreen Connaughton, senior adviser, described the results as "very encouraging", although the council is treating the findings cautiously. The same group of project pupils will be tested this October against primary 2 pupils last year to check their advances.
Ms Connaughton said staff pinpointed the team work between the teachers and nursery nurses as the key factor. "There was more focused work and more time with the children," she said. Book corners were also effective.