Raising Literacy Standards, Policy UK Event, London 08/03/2016
Organised by Policy UK (www.policy-uk.com), whose remit is to bring together government representatives, organisations, charities and businesses to discuss policy reform, this event was a fantastic opportunity to hear the views of those working for key reading and literacy organisations.
Particular highlights for me included hearing from Dr Jane Davis, of The Reader (www.thereader.org.uk) about the amazing work in progress to turn Liverpool into a City of Readers. Dr Davis’ story was inspirational to say the least and showed the impact of the reading aloud campaign demonstrating how important the shared reading experience can be. We also heard from Anjali Patel from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (www.clpe.org.uk ) who shared the range of skills required to ensure children develop as readers. CLPE promotes high standards of teaching in literacy and their Power of Reading programme was of particular interest given the focus on utilising high quality children’s literature to ensure reading is at the heart of the curriculum. They offer amazing teaching resources or ‘sequences’ so that classroom practice can be developed via literature to enrich the learning experience; I wonder how many teachers are aware of this and are able to make use of these, even if just as a starting point.
Seonaid Macleod, from The Publishers Association, talked about the work they are doing to encourage reading for pleasure with a focus on their new initiative Reading Ambassadors, which is shortly to be launched and sounds fantastic. Kathy Innes, of AI Media, gave a brief talk on technology that turns talk into text and the use of subtitles to aid literacy and reading. This was interesting and gave a different view point on how people read, whether this is as a result of their personal circumstance or for teaching & learning purposes. Lively discussions from delegates added to the debate, ranging from teaching phonics to diversity in book publishing, with the morning session chaired by Lord Tope, of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy and the afternoon chaired by The Rt Hon Fiona Mactaggart MP.
Most significantly, The Director of the National Literacy Trust, the Chief Executive of Booktrust and the President of CILIP gave their visions for literacy and reading in the UK and the common theme was we must work towards raising awareness of the importance of improving literacy standards through developing a love for reading for pleasure. We can all use our various expertise, whether this be in the field of librarianship, teaching, government, charities, technology, publishing; whatever we ‘do’ our aim is shared. The imperative for raising literacy standards should not be underestimated for current and future generations, not just to improve literacy levels and enjoyment of reading, but to improve quality of life.