Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Thousands of pupils to benefit from literacy and numeracy scheme

One in three children who are driven to school live less than one mile away, a survey found

More than 6,000 pupils could benefit from an ambitious new scheme to raise literacy and numeracy standards in our schools.

Primary and secondary pupils struggling with English and maths will receive one-to-one tuition from hundreds of newly qualified teachers who are being recruited to focus solely on literacy and numeracy.

The initiative, which will not impact on the Department of Education’s budget, is due to get under way in early 2013 after 230 recently graduated teachers are hired to deliver the additional support.

It is a major boost for the teaching profession and the thousands of graduates who have been unable to use their skills and qualifications in the classroom.

Each new teacher — who will be given a two-year contract — will be required to carry out a minimum of 25 one-to-one sessions each week with pupils selected by their school who struggle with literacy and numeracy.

That means 5,750 pupils a year could benefit from the initiative if every new teacher provides individual support to 25 pupils.

Under the project, 150 recently graduated teachers who are without permanent employment will tutor Year 11 and 12 pupils preparing for their GCSEs. The scheme will be targeted at 15 and 16-year-olds who are not projected to get a vital grade C in English and maths.

Another 80 will be responsible for delivering one-to-one tuition to pupils in Years 5 to 7 who are struggling with reading and maths at Key Stage 2.

It is one of six signature projects worth £26m that were unveiled by the First and Deputy First Ministers at Stormont Castle yesterday.

Other plans include:

  • £2m for the Department of Health and Social Services to support parenting programmes, including 50 additional health workers to support new parents in areas of deprivation for up to 1,200 families.
  • A pilot intervention to support young people not in education, employment or training.
  • The establishment of 10 family support hubs to provide co-|ordinated early intervention services at a local level.
  • £4m for the creation of 10 social enterprise incubation hubs to encourage business start-ups in empty or derelict shops.
  • The establishment of 20 new children’s nurture units to improve the lives and educational attainment of children by offering support, help and guidance to pupils within the school environment.

First Minister Peter Robinson said: “We want everyone to be equipped with the skills to strengthen our economic growth and for everyone to benefit from our mainstream education, health and employment programmes.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness added that the announcement “is about working together in new ways across departments and in partnership with the community, businesses and wider society”.

“The aim is to make a tangible difference, particularly for our children and young people over the next two years.”

The projects will be delivered through the Delivering Social Change framework under the central control of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister at Stormont.

Both ministers have revealed that if the literacy and numeracy schemes are successful they will be extended. Mr McGuinness said if standards are raised, the project could even be expanded while Mr Robinson said: “We will evaluate the project and see how it can be rolled out more strongly.”

Education Minister John O’Dowd said the move would have a direct impact on many pupils who are struggling.

“By targeting those who are at risk of under achieving and focusing on the core skills of literacy and numeracy, we will ensure more young people can achieve to their full potential,” he said.

Story so far

There are 27,610 teachers registered with the General Teaching Council Northern Ireland, with 19,988 of them employed in nurseries and schools. That means there are 7,622 qualified teachers not working in the classroom. Statistics from March 2012 show 4,624 teachers aged 29 or under are registered with the GTCNI of whom just 2,390 are working in their chosen profession. That means potentially one in 10 recent graduates could avail of the new scheme announced by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.

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