A COLCHESTER school is the first in the country to offer intensive one-to-one support to help improve pupils’ literacy and speech.

North Primary School is also offering drop-in sessions and workshops for parents as part of the Rapid English programme.

The extra help is being funded by a £9,000 Essex County Council grant.

Headteacher Alan Garnett said: “We are passionate about making sure we pick up early on children who have communication difficulties and support them, working with parents and giving extra support where needed.

“Sadly, there are too many teenager out there who found school a confusing or frustrating place because they couldn’t understand or express themselves as well as others.

“This has led to them switching off from learning and often affected their life chances.”

The support programme applies to children aged ten and 11, and also offers training for teachers and other staff.

Mr Garnett added: “By spending the money largely on staff training and development, we expect the impact of the project to be long-lasting, as the good practice we develop will be sustained and expanded upon over the years.”

The county council is funding the project as part of its special educational needs strategy.

The school was one of 151 in Essex which bid for funding and one of 12 which got it.

If the scheme is successful, the project is likely to be extended to more schools across the country.