Whether it involves balancing on boards and catching bean bags, wearing bobble hats or rolling children in carpets, the fact that parents will pay dearly for these treatments is testament to the agony of literacy difficulties. Failing to learn to read and write costs society a great deal, and not just in money, as the Basic Skills Agency report It doesn't get any better (1997) made all too clear. Another recent compensation award for undiagnosed dyslexia is just one of the costs.
Reading Recovery, which costs about pound;1,000 per child, does not claim to offer a cure for dyslexia but it has been shown to arrest literacy difficulties in four out of five of the lowest-achieving children. Yet it is deemed too expensive to be made available to every child who needs it.
The evaluation of the National Literacy Strategy declared that its success will not be measured by the numbers achieving target levels, but by its ability to close the gap between the lowest achievers and the average. That is exactly what Reading Recovery is designed to do.
Let us stop looking for ways of papering over the cracks of literacy failure and fund schools properly to provide the intensive support that 10 per cent of our children need.
Julia Douetil National co-ordinator Reading Recovery National Network Institute of Education University of London 20 Bedford Way Bloomsbury, London WC1