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Huge reading gap for six-year-olds

Hon Bill English
National Party Education Spokesman

24 April 2005

Huge reading gap for six-year-olds

National’s Education spokesman, Bill English, says a Ministry of Education report shows only about half of New Zealand’s lower decile primary schools use the Government’s flagship Reading Recovery programme.

“This means the children who most need help with reading aren't getting it,” says Mr English.

The Reading Recovery programme is aimed at six-year-olds with reading difficulties.

“If only half of low decile schools use the Reading Recovery programme, then thousands of six-year-olds are missing their last chance to be caught in the safety net,” says Mr English.

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 half of this country’s lower decile 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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