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Pandemic hit pupils' reading skills, says watchdog

[Press center2] time:2023-06-02 04:33:48 source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center3 click:38order

The Covid pandemic negatively affected children's reading skills and widened the gap between pupils, Wales' schools watchdog has said.

Inspectors found teaching strategies normally designed for younger pupils had to be used with older pupils.

The decline was more marked for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Welsh government said action was being taken in response to the Estyn findings.

But the report into the reading standards of 10 to 14-year-olds said many pupils' skills were "beginning to improve".

It said more training was needed for staff about the most effective ways to help pupils.

According to Owen Evans, the chief inspector, the pandemic had a "negative impact, especially on those disadvantaged by poverty" but standards were improving.

Lockdowns "may have widened the gap" in reading between pupils who had resources and support at home and those who did not, Estyn's report said.

Inspectors visited a sample of English-language schools to observe the reading skills of pupils in years 6 to 9, as well as considering evidence from other inspections.

More pupils in Year 6, the final year of primary, were making good progress than those in the early years of secondary where the majority of pupils "did not develop reading skills well enough".

The report also highlighted the importance of a welcoming and well-stocked school library.

It said there were big variations in facilities across schools, but in a few the library was "barely used or has been decommissioned".

The Welsh government said action was being taken to improve reading standards and Estyn's recommendations "mirror our own expectations for all pupils to develop high standards, regardless of background".

Every school pupil is being given a free book and a reading mentoring programme is being piloted where university students are partnered with primary schools "to encourage an enjoyment and motivation to read", a spokesman said.

Wales improved its performance in the last Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests in 2019, but reading scores remained well below other parts of the UK.

(editor-in-charge:Press center8)

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