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Blow to pupils and new teachers as literacy and numeracy project scrapped

By Joanne Fleming

A scheme which offered two years of work to newly-qualified teachers and helped pupils struggling with English and maths is not being renewed because of a lack of funding.

The Literacy and Numeracy Signature Programme created the equivalent of 270 extra full-time teaching posts and cost £16m.

It helped 19,000 pupils in around 300 selected primary and post-primary schools.

Education Minister John O'Dowd said it was "disappointing" the scheme could not continue.

The programme began at the start of the 2013 school year, with £14m funding from OFMDFM topped up with £2m from the Department of Education.

As a result, schools where some pupils were struggling to reach basic standards in English and maths were provided with an extra member of staff.

Only newly-qualified teachers could apply for the new two-year posts.

Holy Cross Boys' Primary School in north Belfast was among the schools to benefit from the scheme, gaining one new teacher.

Vice-principal Chris Donnelly said that this had made a big difference to pupils.

"In this school two years ago, we had 68% of our children at level four in maths and English at the end of primary xeven," he told the BBC.

"After one year of signature, we went up to 74% and this year we are recording 80%, which is a significant leap."

Belfast Telegraph


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