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From Better to Best: The Reader Organisation leads reading campaign to make Liverpool the UK’s literate city

July 11, 2013
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The Reader Organisation has been chosen as official partners in Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson’s campaign to transform Liverpool into the foremost reading city in the country and a national leader in school standards.

From Better to Best’, a report published today by Liverpool Education Commission, sets out a vision in which the city builds on recent improvements, further raising standards and narrowing the attainment gap between different groups of children.

The cornerstone of this ambition is for all children to leave primary school as readers, as almost one in five locally and nationally do not currently meet national targets. The Reader Organisation has been commissioned to help create these improvements through our shared reading initiative, focusing on reading for pleasure. We will do this by working with schools, training staff and volunteers, ranging from parents to sixth-form students, to read with younger children across the city.

The Reader Organisation’s founder and director Jane Davis commented:

“We’re delighted to partner with the Mayor in this exciting initiative which will future-proof the next generation against educational failure.

“Research from the OECD has proved that nothing affects children’s social mobility more than reading for pleasure – it’s more important than what your parents do or where you go to school.

“We’ve been working to secure Liverpool’s title as the UK’s literate city for more than 10 years – so we’re delighted to help the Mayor lead this vital work. Let’s work together to get our children reading.”

The Reader Organisa032tion has as a strong track record of encouraging reading in schools in Liverpool and across the UK,  including a project in Glasgow. We run weekly shared reading groups and individual sessions with pupils where everything is read aloud in a relaxed, informal environment. The pupils are invited to share their personal responses to the stories and poems, with no expectation of a ‘right’ answer. These sessions make reading an enjoyable experience, building the confidence, self esteem and reading ability of young people.

The aim of our education projects is to develop a life-long love of reading for pleasure, engaging the hardest to reach young people in society and creating a culture of shared reading amongst their parents, carers and teachers. The outcomes are overwhelmingly positive, including improved wellbeing, greater social skills, and improved literacy skills.

  • 99% of the children we currently read with on Merseyside look forward to their reading sessions
  • 89% said reading made them more confident discussing their own ideas and opinions

Reading is the key to unlocking the door to participation in education, providing children with the opportunity to make the most of their potential and prospects for the future. According to The National Literacy Trust, and the evidence from our own research and evaluation, the emotional and social consequences of reading for pleasure are also hugely significant, promoting greater insight into human nature and other cultures, and increasing community participation. It is no coincidence that 50% of young offenders are unable to read functionally.

“I’ve started reading at home, I used to get nervous reading aloud but I’m dead good at it now.”
P, 11, Liverpool

“K’s said to me how much he’s enjoying reading with you… he’s perked up loads in class”
Teacher, Glasgow

“one lesson isn’t enough. I’d do this every day if I could”
N, Year 7 Pupil, Liverpool

As well as working with young people in schools, we work one-to-one with Looked After Children, a group with a 42% lower academic attainmentG31A6964 than their peers by the time they reach Key Stage 4. We also have a Reader in Residence at Liverpool Hope University who works to develop a culture of reading for pleasure amongst the Education students who will go on to become primary and secondary school teachers. Our anthology, A Little, Aloud for Childrenis full of inspiring stories and poems specially selected by our Project Workers for reading aloud with young people at home or in school.

Over the coming months, we will be developing our activity with young people across the city, but teachers and education professionals can get a head start next week by attending our free Reading for Pleasure In Secondary Schools day conference at Liverpool Hope University on Monday 15th July.  This is our second education conference and will explore how schools can work with The Reader Organisation to create ‘reading schools’. A few places are still available – find out more and contact partnershipoffice@hope.ac.uk or 0151 291 3062 to book your place.

Let’s work together to transform Liverpool into the UK’s literate city and give all children the chance to experience the joy of reading for pleasure.

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