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Team training in Tower Hamlets

Unlike, Islington and Southwark, the other two boroughs in the survey by the Office for Standards in Education, Tower Hamlets failed in its bid for one of the Government's new literacy centres, due to start this September.

But according to Terry Reynolds, the borough's English inspector, one of the reasons for this might be that Tower Hamlets already has a borough-wide literacy scheme, not unlike that which the Government was proposing.

The "LIFT" project ("Literacy Focus Teams": Tower Hamlets likes its acronyms, says Mr Reynolds) began in 10 primary schools last September. Funded for seven years by the Single Regeneration Budget, and aimed at five- to seven-year olds, the project will eventually reach all Tower Hamlets' primary schools.

It grew out of a Reading Recovery pilot scheme, explains Nikki Daly, LIFT co-ordinator, which led to an increased demand for wider literacy training in schools. LIFT provides a 10-day training course (Government literacy centres will only offer five days) for a team from each school - the English co-ordinator, a special needs teacher and an infant teacher, who will be trained in Reading Recovery - as well as 10 days' release time for the three to work together during the year.

The idea is to build a literacy team with a shared understanding of what each child needs, who can also focus on the particular needs or weaknesses of their school, and, in time, help to train others.

The project is being monitored by OFSTED, and although it is too early for results, Ms Daly says she is optimistic: "The response we are getting from teachers is that they are finding it interesting and inspiring."

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