Reading hubs established in Stowmarket, Haverhill and Lowestoft as part of literacy scheme
Hubs for improving children’s literacy are now established across three areas of Suffolk as part of a 10-year project to get youngsters reading.
Suffolk County Council and the National Literacy Trust teamed up to launch Get Suffolk Reading in September last year – one of 15 schemes nationally encouraging children to read and develop their literacy skills.
The project, which has six-figure funding from the county council and Suffolk Public Sector Leaders (SPSL), has so far attracted £340,000 of additional investment and reached nearly 3,500 families.
It now has three hubs established – in Haverhill, Lowestoft and Stowmarket – and 120 ‘literacy champions’ in place.
Among the measures have been distributing free books and magazines – 12,000 to date in Suffolk – as well as storytelling trails, events, volunteers working with youngsters who struggle to read, signposting families to additional support and involvement of top authors such as Malorie Blackman and Charlie Higson to become ambassadors and inspire kids.
Adrian Orr, assistant director for education, skills and learning at Suffolk County Council, said it was a 'vitally important programme'.
“We know a child’s reading ability at the age of 11 is one of the single biggest indicators of their economic independence at the age of 30,” he told a recent SPSL meeting.
“We know feeling confident in being able to read and write, not just as a child but as an adult, can make a significant difference to life chances.
“The project is built on a range of evidence-based practices that are aimed to engage with families – particularly with mums with very young children – to try to address some of the early issues that later in life create barriers for people.
“It’s a fairly ambitious, decade-long programme, not just to tackle those literacy issues but really to make a direct contribution to enhancing social mobility.”
The campaign team has a series of events planned, with aims for the scheme to be financially self-sufficient without local authority cash from year three onwards.
A host of organisations are already involved, including Suffolk Libraries, Suffolk Mind and Home-Start, as well as a link up with the priority education investment area for Ipswich.
To find out more or to get involved visit www.literacytrust.org.uk/communities/suffolk/