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Strategy to tackle poor literacy and numeracy


24/06/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

A new government strategy to tackle poor standards in literacy and numeracy has been established.

The Department of Education promised action after it was criticised by MPs on Westminster's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for lack of progress in improving children's maths and English.

In a response in February last year the department said it would set up a literacy and numeracy task force within two months.

Education minister Caitriona Ruane yesterday outlined her strategy for improving children's reading, writing and maths skills.

She said 'Every School a Good School: A Strategy for Raising Achievement in Literacy and Numeracy' aimed to "reflect and build on the work that many excellent and committed teachers are already doing".

However, Ms Ruane also said there was a need to radically reform the education system by removing inequities.

She also said that improvements could not be delivered if a system continued "that deems some children suitable for some schools while telling others that they are not suitable".

"My aim is to ensure that every child in every classroom is receiving that same high-quality teaching to help them develop essential skills they will need throughout their lives," she said.

"This strategy has at its heart a realisation that it is through good teaching approaches by teachers who are confident professionals, supported by their school leaders, by parents and by the education service as a whole that will deliver the improvements in literacy and numeracy that we all want to see."

Ms Ruane said many young people still left school after 12 years compulsory education with poor levels of literacy and numeracy.

Last year, about one third of all GCSE pupils failed to achieve a grade A* to C in English, while 41 per cent failed to reach this standard in maths.

Almost half failed to achieve good grades in both subjects.

In addition, around 5,000 children finish P7 each year without having reached the standard of talking, listening, reading and writing expected of pupils aged 10 and 11.

A 2006 audit office report also said in secondary schools in Belfast, two-thirds of boys aged 14 and one-third of girls did not achieve required literacy levels.

Among Travellers, nine out of 10 children are missing minimum standards.

"This strategy is therefore of vital importance, as children who leave school with inadequate literacy and numeracy skills face a lifetime of difficulty and disadvantage," Ms Ruane said.



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