Literacy strategy prioritised;Briefing;School Management

22nd May 1998 at 01:00
The literacy strategy is the Government's top education priority over the next two to three years, said Michael Barber. It consists of: Targets: 80 per cent of 11-year-old pupils should have reached level 4 in maths and English by 2002. In 1997, the overall figure was 57 per cent, with big differences between boys' and girls' performance. For example, 73 per cent of girls have already reached level 4 in reading.

Money: pound;59 million with an extra pound;23 million for books.

This is the first time, said Barber, that a project of this size has been costed and every penny needed has been made available. Normally, the Department for Education and Employment would award half the necessary money.

Management: a national director for the literacy strategy, 10 regional directors and 300 literacy consultants to help train the teachers.

Training: every primary head and literacy co-ordinator will be given two days' training this term with three days' for 190,000 primary teachers next year. This is to be done mainly by their own heads and literacy co-ordinators, but there is money for local authorities to provide training for a school in exceptional circumstances.

National Year of Reading: September launch, coinciding with the start of structured literacy hours for all primary pupils.

The year is intended to turn the cultural tide which is perceived to be anti-reading. Walkers crisps packets will carry the logo. Literacy themes are being written into the script of Channel 4's Brookside and most bookshops and newspapers are expected to join the crusade. Barber believes passionately in this, saying that Random House, Britain's biggest publisher, has already reported a 61 per cent increase in children's book sales.

Reviewing the strategy: evaluators are to report back to the Professor Barber's standards and effectiveness unit at the DFEE every six months. Intended to spot weaknesses in the strategy, they have already anticipated that pupils in Years 3 and 4 in 1999-2000 will have missed out on important work at key stages 1 and 2 and will have to have compensatory lessons.

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