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Dispatches - Hope for the Last Chance Kids
Monday, 8th September 2008
8pm to 9pm (1 hour)
A fifth of children in the UK will start secondary school this month, unable to read and write properly.
A year ago, Channel 4's Lost for Words season highlighted the unacceptable scale of children leaving primary school without basic literacy skills. A three-part series followed the progress of children at Monteagle Primary School in Dagenham, Essex which managed to double the number of children with the right reading skills for their age group in one year - through the use of a systematic programme of learning to read using synthetic phonics.
In this, the National Year of Reading, Dispatches returns to Monteagle to find out how the children are faring and examines the situation for children across Britain.
At Monteagle, teachers who were once sceptical about phonics are now convinced that it is the most effective method, having witnessed the transformation it has had on their pupils. Dispatches meets the children who have been taught phonics since their reception class. Six year-old Matthew's parents are delighted with his reading age, which is so good it is off the scale. It is a very different story to that of his older brother Christian who could not read at all at the age of seven. Two years of being taught to read using synthetic phonics at Monteagle and Christian has transformed from a non-reader to achieving a reading age beyond his nine years of age. Dozens of Monteagle pupils have moved from being totally illiterate to reading fluently.
But whilst the vast majority of children at Monteagle have reaped the success of synthetic phonics, Dispatches discovers that not all children in the UK are benefiting from this system of teaching. In practice, around a quarter of primary schools are either not using it at all or are not teaching it properly. Many teachers have never learnt the basic sounds in the English language themselves and have not been trained to teach phonics.
The Government has made the teaching of reading using systematic synthetic phonics compulsory for the very youngest children but Dispatches asks why it is not being provided for older children who are still struggling to learn to read - even those in secondary schools? Even children aged seven who cannot read often receive no extra help.
At Monteagle, every child who was struggling with their reading is being taught synthetic phonics. At the age of nine, Peter could barely read or write but two years later, he is now starting secondary school with a love of reading and poetry and much improved self-confidence.
Dispatches examines the other literacy projects championed by the Government such as 'Reading Recovery' - a one-to-one scheme taught by highly-trained teachers to six year-olds who are struggling with their reading. The film features one London school which credits 'Reading Recovery' with its excellent literacy rates, which outstrip the national average for England, but Dispatches questions the practicality of a scheme that many children cannot access and is requires huge amounts of funding.
=== File Information ===
File Name: Dispatches - Hope for the Last Chance Kids (8th September 2008).avi
Duration: 00:45:25 (68,113 fr)
File Size: 349 MB (or 358,364 KB or 366,964,736 bytes) bytes
=== Video Information ===
Video Codec Name: XviD
Video Bitrate: 937 kb/s
Bits / Pixel: 0.171 bits/pixel
Resolution: 624x352 (1.77:1) [=39:22]
Frames Per Second: 25.000 fps
=== Audio Information ===
Audio Codec: 0x0055(MP3) ID'd as MPEG-1 Layer 3
Audio Bitrate: 132 kb/s (66/ch, stereo) VBR LAME3.90
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