The Writing's on the Wall; [Pounds Sterling]750,000 Pilot Literacy Scheme Looks Doomed as Angry Teachers Stage Rebellion

Daily Mail (London), February 6, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Writing's on the Wall; [Pounds Sterling]750,000 Pilot Literacy Scheme Looks Doomed as Angry Teachers Stage Rebellion


Byline: GRAHAM GRANT

IT was aimed at helping children to read and write properly amid a growing literacy crisis. But a Scottish Executive pilot project ran into trouble after a rebellion from teachers over the way it was run.

They were angry after discovering that a consultant hired to improve children's reading and writing skills had no experience of teaching English.

A new report reveals that nearly a dozen staff refused to cooperate with a special literacy development officer (LDO) appointed to better their methods.

The LDO was supposedly an outside expert tasked with devising ways of improving the teaching of literacy skills.

The job involved tackling problem areas such as the difficult transition between primary and secondary education, when youngsters tend to lose confidence or become bored by their lessons.

The 18-month project was then scrapped early when the unpopular expert took eight weeks off sick. A parallel experiment in another school hit snags when a teacher said she couldn't do her job with an LDO present.

Now a report into the ill-fated scheme at a group of Lanarkshire schools has shown that pupils' literacy standards - even where staff cooperated - failed to improve significantly.

Last night, critics insisted organisers of the project - which cost an estimated [pounds sterling]750,000 - should be called to account. Scottish Tory education spokesman Lord James Douglas-Hamilton said: 'Pilot schemes are a legitimate and important use of public funds but only as long as those funds are used properly.

'There have to be serious questions asked as to why arrangements were not properly made which led to one of the schemes being brought to an early end.'

Blair Gibbs, spokesman for the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'Expensive consultants are only brought in when civil servants can't cope anymore. In this case, taxpayers have paid for an aborted project that was never going to raise standards.

'If we want to see education improve, we should stop expecting money to deliver miracles and start taking away the control politicians have over our schools.

'We should give control back to parents so they can approve the schooling and the teaching styles best suited to their children.' The pilot scheme aimed to tackle literacy problems which the Executive believes are exacerbated when primary pupils move into secondary education. It ran for 18 months covering two academic years between 2004 and 2006. …

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