Almost 2,000 children on Reading Recovery schemes are facing an uncertain future as their local authorities have failed to get funding from next April.
News that seven metropolitan boroughs would not receive a slice of the Single Regeneration Budget for the programme which helps six-year-olds with reading difficulties was said to be "devastating" for the authorities in which the three-year Grants for Education Support and Training (GEST) funding is due to run out in March.
Education Secretary Gillian Shephard announced this week that approximately Pounds 20 million of the Pounds 125m available to encourage local regeneration would go to education projects, including Reading Recovery work. But Doncaster, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth have learned that they must look for alternative ways of raising cash to continue the scheme which claims to eliminate illiteracy among schoolchildren.
Angela Hobsbaum, a national Reading Recovery network co-ordinator at London University's Institute of Education, said the decision has jeopardised schools' ability to continue Reading Recovery: the authorities had placed "considerable reliance" on the success of their SRB bids.
Altogether 10 local authorities have been penalised through the bidding process, she added. Birmingham, Nottinghamshire and Sheffield did not even get through the local authority hurdles.
"About 180 schools in these 10 LEAs have Reading Recovery teachers who are already trained and working. Also, 140 are training and if they do not complete their course because funding ends in March then they will not be trained at all, because their training programme lasts a full school year."
Although GEST funding was still available for training teachers in schools, there was no money to keep them once they were trained.
"If schools want to continue training teachers then they have to keep an experienced teacher in post within the school - these are the posts which are at risk if there is no scope in the school budget to do so," Ms Hobsbaum said. "The boroughs who placed such reliance upon getting SRB funding will have to make some miserable decisions. Teachers will be devastated."