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Published 19th Jun 2018

national literacy trust reports impressive improvements to literacy in middlesbrough

The National Literacy Trust has revealed impressive improvements to the literacy skills and attitudes of children in Middlesbrough as the charity celebrates five years since the launch of its Hub in the town.

The National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough, known locally as Middlesbrough Reads, was established in 2013 in partnership with Middlesbrough Council and Public Health. The charity has brought together local businesses, schools, health professionals, sport and cultural partners to deliver a range of bespoke programmes and initiatives that have significantly improved literacy levels in the town.

More pupils enjoying reading and writing

As part of Middlesbrough Reads, a number of projects have been delivered to promote reading and writing, and a public campaign has encouraged parents to make reading a part of family life.

The National Literacy Trust’s Annual Literacy Pupil Survey shows improvements in both reading and writing attitudes for pupils in Middlesbrough aged between 8 and 14 since the Hub launch:
• A 19.8% increase (or 10 percentage point increase) in the number of pupils who enjoy writing (50.4% to 60.4%)
• An 8.2% increase (or 4.8 percentage point increase) in the number of pupils who read for enjoyment (58.2% to 63%)

More children starting school with the skills they need

A key focus for Middlesbrough Reads has been the early years, with activity aiming to increase the number of children reaching the expected level at age five.

Hundreds of families took part in the National Literacy Trust’s Early Words Together programme, with local volunteers giving parents the tools they need to support their children’s literacy at home. The programme has had a significant impact:

• Between 2013 and 2015, 43% more children from participating settings reached the expected communication and language levels at age five; three times more than the national percentage increase.
• From 2016 to 2017, 13% more children in participating primary schools achieved an overall good level of development at age five; more than double the increase seen among children from other Middlesbrough schools.

Since the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough launched, there have also been notable improvements to children’s literacy attainment across the town more widely.

There’s been a 31% increase in the percentage of Middlesbrough children achieving the expected level in communication and language at age five (from 55.4% in 2013 to 72.7% in 2017); double the rate of national improvement. This indicates that the Hub, along with local government, school and other partner initiatives, is having a real impact.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust said:
“The National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough has spearheaded our pioneering place-based approach to improving literacy levels in the UK. It has inspired a further six Hubs across the country and we’ve seen local initiatives rolled out both nationally and internationally. We have committed to working in the town for at least 10 years and we’re looking forward to building on the fantastic partnerships we’ve made with local organisations to drive more improvements to literacy across Middlesbrough, which will change the lives of children and families.”

Allison Potter, Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough said:
“We are delighted with the results we have achieved in Middlesbrough over the past five years – it’s fantastic to see that more children are enjoying reading and writing, and starting school with the literacy skills they need to succeed. We are extremely grateful to the schools, businesses, sports teams and other local partners who have supported the Hub and are helping us to make Middlesbrough a reading town.”

Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd said:
“Reading and writing skills are one of the cornerstones of a happy, rounded childhood, and pave the way for success in later life.

“Middlesbrough’s National Literacy Trust Hub has already changed lives, and I’m delighted that what has been achieved here has inspired similar initiatives around the country.”

The Middlesbrough Hub will now turn its attention to piloting its Early Words Together at Two programme with the Roma families in the town, implementing the poetry-based Our Stories programme in schools, and continuing to work closely with Public Health and the Read North East campaign.

To find out more about the work of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough and download the 5th anniversary report, visit middlesbroughreads.org.uk



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