Glasgow secondary school children who can’t read benefit from pilot project

Children who still don’t know how to read when they reach secondary school in Glasgow are getting the chance to learn again, a meeting heard.

Labour councillor Jill Brown revealed a pilot is taking place to teach high school pupils how to read. The politician said she is interested in “every child’s right to read and to be able to have basic maths skills” as she questioned education information presented to councillors last week.

Questioning whether basic skills are a council priority, Councillor Brown said there are pilots taking place at a high school level “where children who are not able to read in secondary school are having the opportunity to learn to read again.”

Some secondary school pupils cannot read.

She added: “I am very keen that we focus on all children and as a top priority ensure no child misses out on learning to read. Attainment is about so much more than exam results and we must give schools and teachers the tools and techniques to get it right for every child.”

No details on the location of the pilot were given at the meeting.

Council education director Douglas Hutchison said: “It is absolutely fundamental that young people should leave school literate and numerate. We are in the process now of setting stretch aims for the national improvement framework. The stretch aims are around literacy and numeracy. It is something that we absolutely haven’t taken our eye off.”

Speaking at the education, skills and early years city policy committee last week, Mr Hutchison said performance reports offering more details will be presented to committees in the future.

He made the comments as councillors were presented with a paper on education services review of values, vision and priorities.

Councillor Fiona Higgins who is a teacher by background gave her “thoughts” on issues with “some kids leaving education with really poor literacy and numeracy.”

She said: “Teachers are always aware when young people are well behind where they should be. It doesn’t slip past us. There is a massive problem in education right now with huge waiting lists for young people who are recognised as having educational differences getting near an education psychologist. We need this in order to put in more support for them.”

She said some young people miss out on extra exam time that they are entitled to having not been diagnosed with dyslexia until they reach third level education.

The Labour politician pointed out a lack of psychologists was a national problem along with a lack of additional support needs (ASN)staff.

Mr Hutchison said Glasgow has a “reasonably sized team” of about 50 educational psychologists and there isn’t a national standard.

Pointing out there is limited funding, he said in an “ideal world we would have more educational psychologists” and “more additional support needs staff but that is probably not the world we are in.”

He said he believes Glasgow is “appropriately staffed” but “could always use more.”

Mr Hutchison said additional supports needs is a “challenging space to operate in” and “we do the best we can with what we have and try to operate as fairly and equitably as possible.”

The council is currently in the process of shaping education values with engagement due to take place with pupils, parents and staff.

The committee minutes said: “Education Services had initiated a conversation to review and plan the next phase of its journey in Glasgow, which would be centred within the context of the new Council plan, connecting with the wider council family and external stakeholders.”

The council paper said on the review of values said: “Our journey of improvement has seen reduced exclusions, increased attendance, improved positive destinations and higher levels of attainment.

It added: “Glasgow remains a city of contrasts with unacceptable levels of inequity and poverty in parts. Attainment continues to be linked to deprivation with the young people living in the most deprived communities performing less well than those living in the least deprived communities but Education Services continue to make positive progress.”