Recognising the critical situation of children in this vulnerated condition, the government together with the business sector, local governments, and charitable institutions have founded the Every Child a Chance Trust. The organisation has taken active participation in finding innovative solutions to the literacy and numeracy difficulties that our children are experiencing today. In addition, they assist in finding the proper response that will bridge the observable widening gap in our school system between the highest achievers and the lowest achievers (www.everychildachancetrust.org).
The Bridge: Every Child a Reader
Every Child a Reader is the programme developed and designed primarily to address the need to provide intensive literacy teaching to six year old children most in need . This programme is of utmost seriousness because
1. Over 5% of children (including nearly 1 in 10 boys) leave English primary schools and go into secondary education without even the most basic skills in reading and writing – over 30,000 children every year. (Every Child A Reader Trust, 2010)
2. If not tackled, these children’s literacy difficulties have life-long and costly consequences (truancy, exclusion, unemployment, poor health, involvement with the criminal justice system - 25% of those in youth custody, for example, have a reading age below 7).(Every Child A Reader Trust, 2010)
3. If children are not independent readers by the end of third grade, it is unlikely that they will be successful in the middle grade and beyond. It is rare that children ‘catch up’ at this point. (Hiebert, 1998, p.2)....
The Project: Our School and Every Child A Reader Reading is the cornerstone of education (Heibert, 1998). Studies have shown that children, who have experienced early reading failure, cannot catch up (Gross, 2006; Heibert, 1998). In addition, students now are being asked to handle complex cognitive tasks at earlier stages of their schooling. Their success, at this stage, heavily depends if they know how to read (Heibert, 1998). Moreover, if our children do not know how to read, their future will be bleaker as the Information Age demands capacity for reading (Riley, 1999). These realities give rise to a sense of urgency among us educators and to me, personally, as the school where I am connected has a literacy level that is below the national average. In this regard, when our school was chosen as one the several schools that would be receiving local government funds to administer the Every Child a Reader Programme, we were placed in a position wherein we could take on the Project. As such, I chose to use for this assignment the Every Child a Reader Project (ECaR) that I managed through my school. The Every Child a Reader Project (ECaR) was particularly valuable for us – it could improve our students not only for the now but also for their entire life. This belief was based not only on theoretical grounds but was anchored on the fact that there were several schools that had the project and it did raise the literacy of their students. I was the senior teacher in charge and I was responsible for the setup of the project from the beginning to the end. I saw the project as a big challenge and a chance to make a radical change in the lives of our young students. As such, when we were chosen as one of recipients for the