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Ministry Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues (4th from left) and Chief Policy Advisor for Education Jo Wood (standing right) visit the Prospect Primary School Summer Literacy Programme. With them is Prospect Primary Teaching Assistant Arlette McField.

Published 10th August 2011, 6:30pm

A recently concluded summer literacy programme offered jointly by the Ministry and Department of Education Services, targets students before literacy struggles begin. During the programme, teachers used the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention kit, a supplementary tool designed to help educators provide powerful, daily small-group instruction for children in younger grades. The tool has three systems with lessons progressing from beginner reading in kindergarten to beginner reading in Year 2. Lessons include a combination of reading, writing, phonics and word study, with specific work on sounds, letters and words, in activities designed to help children notice the details of written language. It also emphasises comprehension strategies and vocabulary expansion, while providing opportunities for students to write about reading so they can learn a variety of writing strategies. Education Minister, the Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP, believes the effect of providing such early support for students is immeasurable. He said, "This programme is a strategic approach that will pay dividends well into the future. "Research demonstrates that catching readers before they fail offers more success than remediating them afterwards." He continued, "A recent UK study shows that their illiteracy costs exceed 1.4 billion. Though the expense may be lower in Cayman, it is still vital to provide quality early intervention - particularly since this approach can provide substantial savings." Playing a key role in the programme's success is PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The company donated two of the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention kits used during the summer programme. "Being pro-active and trying to enhance the learning experience before reading becomes an issue, is an investment we are happy to make," PwC Partner Peter Small commented. "We believe that the literacy kits will add value to children's learning experiences, and help reduce the struggles that several of them currently face." Thus far, feedback from teachers using the intervention kits has been favourable. Maggie Hurley, a Sir John A. Cumber Primary School teacher noted, "While using this tool, I have seen students become more fluent and confident in their reading abilities...and this is happening over a short period of time. "It's a clear and concise programme which builds on students' prior knowledge. Once teachers and students are consistent in their implementation, success will follow. It's easy to use and needs very little preparation as all lessons are clearly laid out. You just open the book and go." Parents have also commented positively on the summer programme, noting that they have seen its success because their children "are surely showing progress." Education administrators and teachers plan to continue using the programme during the regular school year, to support students at risk of literacy failure. (GIS)