Ministry helps struggling readers “Catch Up”

| 09/11/2010

(CNS): A literacy intervention programme for struggling readers that has been successful in the UK and Australia is being introduced in the government primary schools. A pilot scheme to introduce ‘Catch Up Literacy’ for approximately 100 students between now and the end of the school year has been launched by the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Webster Foundation, which is fully funding this pilot scheme in the Cayman Islands. On 25-26 October more than thirty education professionals from government schools were trained to use this internationally-recognised reading intervention. Education Minister Rolston Anglin noted that this is a very timely and important development.

“As one of the strategic priorities of the ministry is to improve our students’ literacy standards, we are very thankful that the Webster Foundation sees literacy as important and that they are supportive of our efforts to improve our students’ achievement,” he said.

Catch Up Literacy is a UK-based not-for-profit charity which aims to address the problem of underachievement that has its roots in literacy and numeracy difficulties. the reading programme has had remarkable success in helping struggling readers in the UK and Australia. It is also being piloted in Ireland.

The Webster Foundation was established in 1984 by members of the family of James Samuel Webster of Cayman and Jamaica. James Samuel Webster was the founder of the Grand Cayman Company. One of the Webster Foundation’s objectives is the advancement of education in the Cayman Islands, and it believes that ‘Catch Up Literacy’ will make a major contribution to the future educational achievements of Caymanian schoolchildren.

Newly appointed literacy specialist in the ministry, Anne Briggs, noted that the reading intervention will be delivered to approximately 100 students between now and the end of the school year by trained teachers’ aides and teachers. The intervention consists of 2 fifteen minute sessions per week for an individual student. Students are typically in the program for seven to eight months.

Julie Lawes, Director of Catch Up, who delivered the training alongside the developer of the program, Dee Reid, said, “We have long been aware of the impact that ‘Catch Up Literacy’ can have for children who are struggling to learn to read. We are delighted with the new large scale research that confirms that children helped by Catch Up achieve almost two and a half times the progress of a typically developing child – which is all the more remarkable when you remember that struggling readers by definition make much less progress than typical children.”

Lawes confirmed that the outcomes of the programme are not confined merely to reading; often the disruptive behaviour that accompanies students who struggle to read lessens. Also, schools report a better understanding of the individual struggling reader’s strengths and weaknesses, and find it easier to help ‘difficult to reach’ children. The intervention also enhances the literacy teaching skills of learning support assistants and teachers.

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  1. Thank you says:

     It is wonderful news to hear that the Dept of Education finally has a Literacy Expert to address our student’s needs.

    Sadly, this comes to late to help the past generations that were pushed through the system without a decent education and now fuel our unemployment and crime rate.

    WHY did a private foundation have to sponsor this?  (Thank you Webster Foundation)  How can the government spend lavishly on new buildings yet leave the students going inside with continued deadwood teachers and ineffective administration?

    Come on Big Mac, shake up the Dept. of Education and OWN this problem.  It is shameful that help has to come from private concerned families instead of our own leaders.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Does the programme need/want volunteers to help with the reading?  If so, is there a contact person or contact number available?

    • Reason says:

       I’d try to contact the Dept of Education "Newly appointed literacy specialist in the ministry, Anne Briggs"…maybe she will start a list of volunteers.  This sounds like a much needed program, kudos for starting this!

    • Anne Briggs says:

      If you would like more information about the Catch Up Literacy programme or ways to volunteer to work with students within our schools please email Anne Briggs, Literacy Specialist, Ministry of Education, Training and Employment at