Launching the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign

Posted by Councillor Melinda Tilley on 24th September 2012.

I am delighted to be writing the first blog on the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign website. From the very moment we decided to mount a countywide campaign to raise the standards of reading for our children and to encourage greater participation in reading throughout the community I have been looking forward to the time when pupils would be benefiting from the extra funding the County Council has been able to provide for this project.

In my time as Lead Member for Education I have been continually impressed by the dedication and conscientiousness of staff in Oxfordshire schools, but it is clear that for some of our children to reach the expected levels of attainment in reading we all have a part to play. This programme gives staff in schools brand new exciting, innovative materials that are based on successful strategies, creates a well-trained, effective reading volunteer force with materials to do the job and will raise the profile of reading across the County so that everyone will want to pick up a book and read.

My motivations here are straight forward: I want reading standards to improve not just because I want Oxfordshire schools to be at the top of the league tables, which I do, but because we know from research that a high level of literacy is essential if one is to succeed in the adult world. Too many young people still leave school with inadequate reading skills and this impacts negatively on their chances of finding rewarding work. We have good employment opportunities in the county and I want to see Oxfordshire pupils being able to take full advantage of them.

I am pleased that the Campaign will be delivered by our partners at the National Literacy Trust, who have a long and successful record in community projects and raising standards of reading, The Local Authority has set them very challenging targets to achieve over the next two years which when gained will put Oxfordshire children at the top of the national league table for reading in Key Stage 1, and enable them to take full advantage of the opportunities to learn in Key Stage 2 and through the secondary school.

On a personal note, I have three grandchildren, and it is one of life’s pleasures to sit down with a lovely story book and read to them. Buying books can be expensive, but I encourage you to use your local library which will have an excellent selection and I often spend a happy half hour hunting the charity shops for bargains. In fact we get most of our books for the children from charity shops. Even our little two year old grandson will go and get a book and ask to be read to. I suspect, part of it is the one to one attention, but this is all good for children and gives them that foundation on which to build a life-long love of books.

Whatever your interest in the Campaign be you parent, child, grandparent, teacher, teaching assistant, potential volunteer, local business I hope you find much to engage you on this website and, more importantly I hope you feel able to play your part in helping us to raise standards of reading for Oxfordshire children and giving them the best possible start in life.

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