Saturday Literacy Hour a positive initiative for unemployed teachers and reluctant readers – Healy Eames

Model should be rolled out nationally

Fine Gael Senator for Galway West, Fidelma Healy Eames, has launched an eight-week early intervention course for reluctant readers and writers, between the ages of six to eight years old, called the Saturday Literacy Hour.

Senator Healy Eames developed this project for 23 pupils from five local primary schools who are struggling with reading and writing. Four unemployed newly qualified teachers have volunteered their time to teach the pupils in the Oranmore Library every Saturday.

“This project is very close to my heart and I am delighted with the response we have got so far. Children who are struggling with reading and writing in schools deserve all the help they can get, and the course is free. Likewise, for newly qualified teachers who are finding it difficult to secure employment, it is an excellent opportunity for them to practice, team plan and team teach.

“This is a positive initiative with encouraging results. The feedback I have received from newly qualified teachers (NQTs) who haven’t been able to get regular classroom experience is that has given them the extra confidence they need when applying for the scarce number of paid teaching positions available. One teacher has secured a post that starts next Monday, which I’m delighted about. 

“This project is an authentic practice through which NQTs could earn some credit hours towards their teaching diploma and/or some form of remuneration, in the absence of teaching posts. Last Saturday, arising from a discussion with Minister Ruairi Quinn, a Department of Education inspector visited the course with this in mind.

“It is hugely important that literacy levels in this country dramatically improve. The Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) shows our literacy levels have fallen from fifth in the developed world to fifteenth.

“I am in talks with the Inspectorate about how this community-based approach to literacy promotion can be rolled out nationwide.”