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Wilf and Tibs join literacy drive

THE Government hopes to boost primary test results this year by targeting intensive support on 131 of the lowest performing schools.

The project, developed by Dr Kevan Collins, new director of the national primary strategy, aims to transform teaching rather than change the content of lessons.

Coventry is one of 13 authorities piloting the programme. The approach has proved so popular that one school in the city, Leigh Church of England primary, is using its own funds to copy the scheme.

Eileen Leech, the city's project strategy manager, said: "We want schools to see this project not as something else that has to be done, but as something at the heart of school improvement."

The programme is delivered in six-week chunks. In the first, teachers use child-friendly language to try to ensure pupils know what they are supposed to be learning.

At Radford primary, teachers have adopted cartoon characters called Wilf (What am I Looking For..?) and Tibs (This Is Because...) to help keep children focused during literacy hours.

Carol Laye, headteacher, said: "I think that there was a real need for the literacy and numeracy strategies, but they were a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. This project shows there is more than one way to crack a nut."

At Radford, just 35 per cent of 11-year-olds reached the required level in English in 2001. This rose to 52 per cent in 2002, before the project started. Maths results rose from 42 per cent to 61 per cent in 2002.

Dr Collins's appointment to the pound;80,000-a-year director post is seen as a steady-as-it-goes choice. He worked as a senior adviser for Bradford education authority before becoming the literacy strategy's regional director for London in 1997, and deputy national director in 2000.

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