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Summer efforts were not in vain

Apparently the Office for Standards in Education has decided that summer schools for children who had fallen behind in reading and numeracy were a failure (TES, February 8).

Is it surprising that youngsters, often already disadvantaged, did not make huge gains in their reading skills during a few weeks of summer?

Last year more than 100 Year 6-10 students, from eight schools, participated in our fifth annual summer scheme. Activities on offer have included judo, hockey, rugby, swimming, cricket and basketball, together with classes in information and communications technology, art, ceramics and pottery. We run two minibuses to collect everyone from around the town, driven by the staff. We aim to increase confidence, build up interest and skills, offer positive role models and constructive ways of spending leisure time.

We also help parents during what can be an expensive and often unproductive six weeks and accept brothers and sisters. Local young professional rugby league players have attended, the hockey coaches last year were female police officers, the governors help at the barbecue, and the senior assistant director presents the certificates and prizes on the last day. We are now part-funded through St Helens council but if the grants dry up we will return to our DIY system and volunteer staff.

Special schools have always displayed imagination and creativity, as well as the ability to measure what really matters.

Assuming that there will always be a pay-off that is immediately measurable is not an intelligent strategy, and certainly does not reflect the agenda for lifelong learning.

How does the Government expect schools to establish meaningful relationships with their communities if there has to be a pre-determined profit at the end of each interaction?

Michael Carolan Hurst special school Hard Lane St Helens, Merseyside

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