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Pilot scheme boosts literacy skills


Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

School children who struggled with basic literacy skills were reading more than 50 books a year by the end of a successful project, it has emerged.

Write to Read, a pilot scheme launched in a north Dublin school, is being rolled out to 1,200 pupils in eight national schools across the capital.

Research showed the number of pupils in Our Lady Immaculate Junior School in Darndale who ranked in the lowest 10 percentile in reading dropped by three quarters after the scheme.

Elsewhere one in five students was in the high-achieving 80 percentile mark on a standardised test. No children had been in this category at the beginning of the study.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said: "This evidence clearly shows that, given the right conditions, there should be no obstacles preventing children from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve to the level of their more advantaged peers."

Brenda Murray, principal at Our Lady Immaculate Junior School, revealed staff devoted a 90-minute block of class time to the development of the children's literacy skills every day, with children writing their own stories and poems.

Parents also engaged more with the school and encouraged pupils to read at home, children chose to read and write more, and pupils were motivated and engaged in literacy.

"It's worth noting that over the course of a year, each child would read upwards of 50 books or more across a wide range of materials," added Ms Murray.

Write to Read - developed by Dr Eithne Kennedy, a lecturer in literacy at St Patrick's College - will be in eight additional schools and 12 community organisations in the north inner city and Darndale over the next two years.

Mr Quinn, who launched the second phase of the scheme, said radically improving literacy and numeracy standards was one of the major goals of the Government.

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"I am determined that we will address the serious weaknesses in young people's learning that national assessments, inspection reports and international surveys have identified," he added.