Summer teachers 'need more incentive'

28th August 1998 at 01:00
Literacy projects hailed a success as report claims lack of recognition for staff development

TEACHERS will need to be given much stronger incentives to take part in summer literacy and numeracy schools if the scheme is to be expanded, a study has found.

The evaluation of six literacy schools in Leicester by Morag Hunter-Carsch and Ken Fogelman of Leicester University's School of Education reported that "there was little recognition of the summer literacy schools as a potentially valid contribution to staff development and career prospects".

It called for a "stronger positive promotion" for such initiatives in the future.

Mary Hufford, development officer for Leicester's education department, said: "If the initiative is to be expanded then more radical thinking will be needed. The schools should not be seen as a bolt-on, they should be integrated into an overall strategy for literacy and numeracy."

She said the report, which listed many positive findings, showed that literacy and numeracy summer schools would benefit all 11-year-olds and not just under-achievers.

The researchers, who visited the schools and asked parents, children and staff to complete a questionnaire, found ancillary and teaching staff concerned that those who attended would be seen as a "privileged group" compared with others who could not attend.

The report said there had been a remarkable increase in pupils' attention span, concentration and memory for facts in retelling short stories read aloud to them.

Also, confidence in tackling spelling and "hard reading" increased and the balance of trips, fun and work was said by those questioned to be excellent.

But the co-ordinators discovered that the time required to contact families, plan and carry out the programme took a great deal longer than originally expected.

This gave particular concern to teachers who were also preparing for the new school year.

The schools benefited from sponsorship from Tesco's which provided food for breakfasts and Boots which offered toiletries as prizes.

Mrs Hunter-Carsch and Professor Fogelman said the schools were characterised by devoted staff who worked well together beyond the call of duty and provided a caring, warm atmosphere for the students.

"There needs to be a more systematic evaluation of the schemes and some real research in the effect the schools are having on their students.

"The teachers who take part in them should be recognised for their efforts," said Mrs Hunter-Carsch.

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