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Watched all the way

More than 58,000 primary children have been tested since 1997, as the authority tried to eradicate illiteracy among school leavers.

The "multiple-component" intervention - to address underachievement and illiteracy - tests all children individually in pre-school and in P1 and P2 classes. That involves 3,000-4,000 children a year. Group reading tests are carried out with all pupils in P3, P4 and P7 to evaluate progress as children move through.

An initial 11-strong early intervention team supported schools, devising training for 400 staff and drawing up materials. This was backed by a four-strong home visiting team.

Seven of the 10 aspects to the project were seen as key strands: phonological awareness and the alphabet; a strong and structured phonics emphasis; extra classroom help in the early years; raising teacher awareness through focused assessment; increased time spent on key aspects of reading; identification of and support for children who are failing; and home support for encouraging literacy.

The other three strands were: fostering a "literacy environment" in school and community; lessons from research in interactive learning; and changing attitudes, values and expectations.

Kathleen Duncan, a pupil at Braidfield High, Clydebank, summed up the difference the project made to her: "When all this started I couldn't read.

I was a failure. Now I have a cupboard full of books at home. My favourite authors are Roald Dahl and JK Rowling. Now I am a success."

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