A locally-based charity who work to improve reading skills and life chances for young people held their annual literacy conference last week.
This year’s conference was created to address the issue of ‘Closing the Literacy Gap’ and how to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve the same as their more fortunate peers.
Popular children’s authors, Tom Palmer and Andy Seed both presented at the conference speaking about ways to make reading more accessible for all children and the role that authors can play in igniting a love of reading.
The conference keynote speech was delivered by Bradford-born Matt Bromley, a leading education writer and consultant who was able to raise his own aspirations and academic achievement above those expected by his circumstances by becoming an avid reader.
Matt spoke of the importance of reading for pleasure on social mobility and how the “word rich” will inevitably become more affluent and the “word poor” more impoverished. He implored teachers, as those who have the “superpower” of being literate and loving books to pass it on and stressed the value of parents reading to their children at home.
The highlight of the day was when children from two Bradford schools – Dixon’s Kings Academy and Bowling Park Primary School spoke to the enthralled delegates about how their Reading Leaders training had helped them to improve the confidence and reading ability of their younger reading partners.
The Reading Leaders training which prepares older pupils to provide effective one to one reading support to the younger ones is a great way to engage children from disadvantaged backgrounds who often learn better from other young people.
The other expert speakers were Dr Paula Clarke of The University of Leeds who shared strategies for teaching language comprehension to support those that struggle, Deborah Bullivant of the Grimm and Co social enterprise in Rotherham that uses an apothecary shop as the inspiration for creative writing and Rachel Van Riel who shared tips on how to make library spaces for children as attractive and accessible as possible.
Workshops covered topics relevant to ‘Closing the Literacy Gap’ including the best support for those with English as an additional language and using comics to enhance learning.
Over 150 people attended the conference, mainly teachers from primary and secondary schools along with librarians, learning mentors and other education professionals with some travelling from as far as London to be part of this motivating event.
Rachel Kelly, Chief Executive of Reading Matters said: “It was a really inspiring and enjoyable day and it’s so great to bring together all these people who are dedicated to doing their best for children and helping them to reach their potential”.
Reading Matters has been helping young people to read with confidence and enthusiasm since 1997 and provides schools with Reading Mentors in South and West Yorkshire. Their accredited training courses are available nationwide for peer mentors, education professionals and parents.
The charity, which specialises in one to one reading support for young struggling and relucatant readers currently helps around 6,800 children each year with an average improvement in reading age of 13 months in just 10 hours.
For more information please see the charity’s website: www.readingmatters.org.uk
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