"It is only when you get close up to a community you see literacy leadership comes in different guises," Julia Cleverdon, the Chair of the National Literacy Trust, told guests at the launch of our report National Literacy Trust Hubs: A place-based response to tackling low literacy.
This sums up the essence of our National Literacy Hubs where whole communities in Middlesbrough, Bradford and Peterborough are working in innovative ways to increase literacy. Together they are bringing literacy home to families who, for generations, have lacked the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills expected of an 11-year-old.
Today the future is looking brighter for the families in most need of support, which has come in a variety of forms including projects run in children's centres to encourage dads to read more with their sons and daughters and performance poetry classes in schools. It is never too early to begin and our book gifting in neonatal hospital wards by nurses who have received literacy training has encouraged mums and dads to read to their babies during their first days. In the wider community, posters on buses and big screens in shopping areas get the message directly to parents that reading with their children is important while walk and talk trails lead families to the library.
This has all been achieved through the efforts of more than 75 partnerships between a diverse range of local organisations, convened by the National Literacy Trust, which have come up with tailor-made solutions for their communities which have engaged the families who were hardest to reach with specialist support.
This devolution in action - bringing together public services, third sector organisations and businesses in a mixture of programmes, community action and campaigning has been improving educational outcomes from the early years to secondary schools since 2012. Independent evaluation has found that In Bradford, attitudes towards writing have improved, with more children and young people aged 11 to 14 writing every day or a few times a week outside school (53%), compared to their peers regionally (40%) and nationally (44%). In Peterborough the number of Key Stage 2 pupils who enjoy reading has increased by 23% between 2014 and 2015, rising from 60% in 2014 to 74% last year. In Middlesbrough, more children are achieving a Good Level of Development at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage, closing the gap with the national average from 22.6 percentage points in 2013 to 6.27 percentage points in 2015.
Every child deserves the best start in life which includes the literacy skills which will help them to fulfil their potential during their education and employment. The National Literacy Trust is pledging to do more to achieve this by launching a Business Promise in each Hub area. We are calling on local companies and firms to sign up to invest their knowledge and resources into driving up literacy levels, with dividends for everyone.
The National Literacy Trust is a national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. Our research and analysis make us the leading authority on literacy. We run projects in the poorest communities, campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians and parents, and support schools. To find out more, visit: www.literacytrust.org.uk
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