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'It’s Cool to Read' Government tells students


'It’s Cool to Read' Government tells students


Education Minister Trevor Mallard today welcomed the start of Government Book Week, which encourages children from low decile schools to get excited about reading.

From 28 June to 2 July 2004, MPs will be handing out books to students around the country and promoting the Books in Homes message 'It’s Cool to Read'.

Books in Homes is a literacy programme benefiting some 80,000 young Kiwi kids. It is aimed at breaking the cycle of 'booklessness' for children in decile 1-3 schools. The concept is the brainchild of author Alan Duff who noted that many students in low decile schools came from bookless homes and showed little or no interest in reading.

The Ministry of Education contributes almost $1.2 million each year to the programme, which is also supported by more than 300 private sponsors. It has grown from 80 schools and 16,000 students receiving books in 1995, to 442 schools and more than 80,000 students in 2004. All decile 1-3 schools are eligible to join the programme. Every year each child in the programme receives about five free books of their choice.

"The New Zealand Council for Educational Research evaluated Books in Homes in 2002 and found that virtually every aspect of the programme had beneficial effects for the schools involved," Trevor Mallard said.

"This government is determined to lift education standards, and to ensure that every single New Zealander, regardless of their background, has the chance to reach their full potential. We want to improve literacy skills but also encourage kids to think of reading as a fun thing to do.

"The Books in Homes programme is just one of a number of initiatives the government is supporting to improve the reading and writing skills of students," Trevor Mallard said.

Attached is a list of government literacy initiatives, funded at $42 million a year.

Trevor Mallard will visit schools in his local Hutt South electorate on Thursday, 1 July.

Literacy Strategy 2004

Literacy Professional Development The primary project that focuses on reading comprehension or writing in years 1-8; Through the Colleges of Education various initiatives which are flexible and designed to meet specific identified needs of schools and teachers who are working to lift students' reading and writing skills; and The secondary schools research and development project that started last year and will finish in 2005.

Literacy and Numeracy test asTTle The literacy and numeracy test asTTle (Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning) are tests that enable teachers in years 5-7 to track the progress and achievement of both individual students and groups of students against national literacy and numeracy standards, and then target teaching to address students' weaknesses. Tests will be available for years 8 – 10 by December 2004.

Reading Recovery teachers Reading Recovery teachers work with six-year-olds who have been identified as requiring individual instruction, with government funding of $20 million per year.

Resource Teachers Resource Teachers: Literacy (RT:Lits) work with years 1-8 students most at risk of not achieving, and their teachers. Since 1998/99 the number of these teachers has increased from 68 to 120.

Effective Literacy in all primary schools Literacy Development Officers encourage a review of the effectiveness of each school’s literacy programmes. They work with school managers to help them analyse students' literacy data, and then help schools access appropriate professional development.

Resources for teachers and students The Ready to Read books and School Journals now have more support for struggling readers and include accompanying notes for teachers. The Game and Other Stories and Swimming with Sharks and Other Stories, two popular series developed by Learning Media on CD-ROM, and aimed at reluctant readers in years 7 - 10, have been extended with Post Cards in Space, with special appeal for year 5 - 6 Mâori and Pasifika boys.

Materials for Home-School Partnerships Materials to support parents and teachers in developing effective home-school partnerships that focus on literacy and numeracy learning, have also been produced.

English Language Assistants training and help A professional development programme for schools with significant numbers of migrant and Pasifika students, continued from 2003, plus English for Speakers of Other Languages resources.

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