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Huge reading gap for six-year-olds

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

21 April 2005

Huge reading gap for six-year-olds

National’s Education spokesman, Bill English, says National will not let children fall behind just because they attend one of the 680 primary schools that do not run the Government’s reading recovery programme.

The programme is aimed at six-year-olds with reading difficulties, but a Ministry of Education study shows that about one third of primary schools do not use it.

National announced last week that it will provide reading and maths vouchers to the value of $700 to any child who does not meet national standards by the age of seven.

Mr English says National’s reading vouchers will fill the gap for children who are missing out on the help they need.

“Reading recovery is a safety net for children who are struggling, but one third of primary schools, for whatever reason, are not making use of it.”

The Ministry of Education says low decile schools are less likely to have reading recovery programmes, despite the fact they get more funds and are perceived to have greater needs.

“This leaves a huge hole and helps explain why New Zealand has one of the biggest disparities in reading in the developed world,” says Mr English.

“Critics of National’s reading voucher need to explain why it’s okay for children in 680 primary schools to go without.”

ENDS

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