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Ten minutes help reading

A reading programme, intended to help the 18 per cent of eight-year-olds who have trouble with literacy, was launched this week.

Primary teachers getting to grips with the Government's literacy hour may be interested in the Catch Up project - the result of research to find out how children could best be helped in a mere 10 minutes.

Devised by researchers from Oxford Brookes University's school of education, Catch Up is the first programme aimed at children starting key stage 2.

Project director Suzi Clipson-Boyles said the beginning of Year 3 was a "golden opportunity" to use key stage 1 test results to identify those who needed help.

Mrs Clipson-Boyles said Catch Up drew on several pieces of recent research to give teachers a shorter, more structured and more cost-effective programme.

The teacher uses initial diagnostic assessment procedures to determine a child's attitudes towards reading, and then identifies the appropriate text level from one of 10 Catch Up stages to plan a programme. The teacher works with each pupil for 10 minutes and a group for 15 minutes once a week.

Teachers can also use classroom assistants to oversee optional work linked to tasks in the 10-minute periods.

Fifteen schools piloted the programme during the autumn, including Hardwick primary school in Banbury.

Teacher Catherine McAlpine said Catch Up drew on some of the methods she already used in the classroom, and presented them in a well-structured way.

She believed it was a good idea to determine a child's reading skills accurately and involve teachers more actively in the whole process.

Ms McAlpine said that children on the Catch Up programme had improved not only their reading skills, but also their writing ability.

"I think it's something to do with the penny dropping with some children," she said.

The project is funded by the charity World in Need. This subsidy means that the pack, which includes a training video, manuals and photocopiable materials, costs just pound;85. Only one is needed per school.

A CD-Rom of literacy games, some targeted specifically at boys, will be available later in the year.

Mrs Clipson-Boyles said more than 500 enquiries had already been received from schools interested in buying the pack, and that 23 local education authorities had booked lectures to introduce the programme to teachers and heads.

Support will be available to teachers via a telephone help-line and e-mail.

The National Foundation for Education Research plans to conduct a large-scale evaluation of Catch Up in 100 schools.

For more information, call 01865 485 903, or e-mail: catchup@brookes.ac.uk

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