Most progress for lower abilities

28th August 1998 at 01:00
THE GOVERNMENT-backed summer schools for maths and reading are taking children of significantly lower ability than last year, after pressure from teachers and researchers.

Ministers had originally hoped that the Pounds 1 million initiative would help more children reach level 4 - the expected standard for 11-year-olds - so last year's pilot summer schemes were aimed at pupils who already had level 3.

But analysis of last year's results shows there was no significant benefit for these pupils.

Those who made the most progress in the three-week holiday courses were the most vulnerable students who were nowhere near level 4.

Dr Kay Alexander, director of the charity Education Extra which ran last summer's literacy scheme, said: "This year there's been time to target the right children. Secondary schools have also had time to talk to their primary schools to make sure they're getting the right children. Last year's research did show that children who were less successful got more out of the experience. "

This year there are 562 literacy schemes and 51 pilot numeracy schools organised through local authorities. The schemes are funded by Pounds 1 million from businessman Maurice Hatter. Their progress will be measured by the National Foundation for Educational Research. There will be a report from Education Extra.

An analysis, also by the NFRER, of last year's project showed that the schemes made no difference to the reading scores of the 1,500 participants. Despite dramatic short-term gains, pupils' reading declined between May and September whether they had attended a summer school or not.

There were however substantial benefits in terms of children's confidence and attitude towards books. Attendance was 95 per cent.

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