Lecturer in Education at the University of Leicester, Dr Rosemary Sage, will be appointed a Millennium Fellow for her enterprising work involving an innovative Leicester family-schools project which has itself won a Millennium award.
Dr Sage's award was made for a school and family communication scheme, called COGS (The Communication Opportunity Group Scheme), which was set up in 1999 as a pilot project involving two Leicester schools.
Students from Knighton Fields Primary School and Sir Jonathan North Community College, who were identified as needing help with communication to access the curriculum, were supported with the help of the Special Needs Teaching Services.
The Communication Opportunity Group Scheme was used in two different ways in both schools to support students in spoken and written activities.
Six students received COGS teaching for one hour over ten weeks in the summer term. A further six were taken off timetable for a week and received COGS in the morning and a related programme of activities in the afternoon.
Results of tests were compared with control groups. The data shows significant progress in both groups of COGS students when compared with the controls. Some parents said that on the COGS days their children had leapt out of bed to go to school - which was very different from the ususal response. A total of 36 students were involved, 1 days from each school.
Data is currently being analysed and the final report collated, while follow-up work is taking place in schools and the future direction of the project is being considered.
The research has been supported and monitored by AFASIC (the Association of Speech Impaired Children), who funded teacher cover and the expenses of the activity week and who have produced a positive evaluation of the project. The COGS is one of the activities of Human Communication International, an educational charity that promotes awareness of communication issues.
In addition the University of Leicester has allocated funds for producing a video and training manual for the COGS project. Filming will take place in January and February 2000.
Dr Sage said: "The aim of the scheme is to teach students school success skills so that they make better use of their education".
"Last year I was approached by Sir Jonathan North Community College and Knighton Fields Primary School who have been running COGS groups which have had real impact on pupil performance.
"The scheme is useful to help students access the curriculum if basic skills of communication are not well developed.
"The award will help to publicise the scheme and further its development. We aim to run a conference next year to show the work done in local schools. Leicester School of Education has developed a portfolia of courses in Human Communication to support this work. Enquiries: Kirn Saini, Continuing Professional Development Office - School of Education, 21 University Rd. Leicester LE1 7RF Tel: 0116 252 3656.
"The separate recognition of being appointed a Millennium Fellow is Tony Blair's way of acknowledging 'unsung heroes' - as he puts it."
The awards are made by the Millennium Commission set up by the Government to support work that has impact on the community.
Note to Editors: Further details are available from Dr Rosemary Sage, School of Education, University of Leicester, tel: 0116 - 252 5786 or 0116 252 3669; Fax: 0116 - 252 3653; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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