Improvements of up to 11 months in reading and spelling ages were seen in pupils at one of the government-sponsored summer literacy schools, according to the researcher who developed the special teaching method it used.
Dr Colin Lane says the 10 pupils at Blake school in Bridgwater, Somerset, achieved the gains with no more than nine hours of the Arrow project work, built into the ordinary summer school. Previously, Arrow pupils improved their average reading age by eight months and spelling by seven. At Blake, the gains were 11 months for reading and 10 for spelling.
Dr Lane claims 600 schools now use the method.
The Arrow method, developed by Dr Lane when he worked with deaf children, is based on the premiss that people listen most intently to the sound of their own voice. Pupils start by listening to the material they are using on headphones, before moving on to read the text. With help from a tutor, the pupil makes a perfect recording of the same text and finally writes it down from the tape, with the written version nearby for checking.
The overall success of the 50 summer literacy schools - and the most successful methods used - will not be known until the autumn, when evaluative research is published.