Press release

£10 million literacy catch-up programme for disadvantaged pupils

Projects to be set up across England to help disadvantaged pupils who are below the expected level of English by the end of primary school.

Children from poorer backgrounds who are behind in reading and writing at the end of primary school will have the chance to get extra catch-up lessons.

This comes as part of the government’s drive to narrow the attainment gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers.

Results from last year’s key stage 2 tests show that around 100,000 pupils in England failed to reach the expected standard in English. This means that:

  • around one in six pupils (16%) fail to master the basics of reading at the end of primary school
  • around one in four pupils (25%) fail to master the basics of writing at the end of primary school

As part of a £10 million programme, projects will be set up across England to help disadvantaged pupils who fail to reach the expected level of English by the end of primary school (level 4 at key stage 2).

Some projects will be fast-tracked through the bidding process to start from this September, while other projects will start in 2013.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

Reading with confidence is the basis of a good education and to unlocking everything the school curriculum has to offer. Every child should start secondary school with a head start – not a false start.

I’m determined that the Government does everything it can, through the Pupil Premium, to bring children up to speed in literacy as they make the transition from primary to secondary school. This money will be a huge boost to schools in giving extra support the children who need it.

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said:

Improving reading standards in schools is central to the Coalition Government’s education reforms.

Being able to read fluently by the end of primary school is essential. Without these skills children fall further behind in their education. This programme, funded by the Pupil Premium, will help struggling pupils catch up.

It will also help close the gulf in achievement, where the poorest children are less likely to leave school with five good GCSEs than their less disadvantaged classmates.

The programme will be run by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and forms part of the Coalition Government’s drive to improve standards for all. It will help disadvantaged children make the difficult transition from primary to secondary school effectively, as it is one of the key stumbling blocks to improving social mobility in this country.

The EEF will run a competitive bidding process to fund innovative projects that build on either robust evidence or a strong and practical theory. It is expected that schools themselves, along with charities, local authorities and universities, will bid for the programme.

Projects could start at the end of year 6, in the summer between year 6 and year 7, and in year 7 itself. The Foundation will also consider some projects which include mathematics.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the EEF, said:

We very much welcome the Minister’s announcement that the Government is providing £10 million for the EEF to fund and rigorously evaluate projects to find out what works in helping disadvantaged children make the difficult transition from primary to secondary school.

The challenge of navigating this transition successfully is one of the key barriers to improving social mobility in this country.

Each successful project will be evaluated by independent research teams drawn from the EEF panel of evaluators. This will help make sure that through robust evaluations the best projects can be made available to all schools to use.

Note to editors

  1. Bidding is now open for organisations who wish to run literacy catch up projects. Bids will be welcomed from schools, charities, local authorities, or universities and other organisations with expertise in working with disadvantaged pupils. Joint bids are also welcome. Bids could include extra support such as:
    • small catch-up classes;
    • one-to-one tuition using innovative approaches; and
    • vouchers for literacy tuition that parents can spend.
    • Interested parties can find out more information and apply for funding via the EEF website.
  2. Latest key stage 2 results are available on this website.

  3. Funding for the £10 million literacy catch-up programme was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in May 2012.

  4. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is a charity established by the Sutton Trust as the lead charity in a partnership with Impetus Trust, with a Department for Education endowment of £125 million to boost the attainment of disadvantaged children in some of the country’s most challenging schools. Further details are available on the EEF website.

  5. The pupil premium is additional funding on top of the schools budget allocated to children from low-income families and children who have been looked after continuously for more than six months. In 2011-12, the Premium is worth a total of £1.25 billion rising to £2.5 billion by 2014-15. It is available this year to pupils who have been eligible for free school meals at any point in the last six years and children who have been looked after continuously for more than six months. It is currently worth £600 per pupil. More details on the pupil premium are available on this website.

  6. The government is committed to improving standards of literacy and encouraging all pupils to read more:
    • We have introduced a phonics check for 6-year-olds to help teachers to identify pupils who may need extra support in mastering the basics of reading.
    • We are launching a national reading competition with Booktrust and the Pearson Foundation to encourage children to read more.
    • We are working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England on increasing the number of children who visit their local library. This is following a suggestion from Michael Rosen.

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