A new drive to boost literacy levels in Stoke-on-Trent has been announced by the National Literacy Trust and Stoke-on-Trent City Council, in partnership with the City Learning Trust.
The city will become a Literacy Hub, encompassing a range of innovative projects and partnerships to equip Stoke-on-Trent’s young people with the literacy skills they need to succeed. This includes in-depth support for schools, the launch of the Stoke Reads campaign to engage the whole city in reading for enjoyment, and opportunities for businesses to play an important role in tackling the literacy challenge.
While solid progress has been made in recent years to boost educational outcomes in Stoke-on-Trent, particularly in primary schools and the early years through the Stoke Speaks Out initiative, there is still room for improvement. In 2015, the percentage of students in Stoke-on-Trent achieving five GCSEs grade A*-C including English and maths was 48%, compared to 57% of pupils nationally. This figure drops to just 31% of disadvantaged students in Stoke.
The Hub will complement existing activity and focus on secondary school practitioners, pupils and families, building on the improvements that have been made at primary school.
All secondary schools across the city will receive access to the National Literacy Trust’s Language and Literacy within the Curriculum professional development training, which provides both literacy leaders and teachers of other subjects with strategies to improve literacy in their schools. This will be enhanced by tailored one-to-one mentoring support to address school-specific needs.
Both primary and secondary schools in Stoke-on-Trent will also be given membership of the National Literacy Trust Network, which offers a huge range of information, resources and connections for outstanding literacy provision.
The new Stoke Reads campaign will give the whole city the chance to champion literacy in Stoke-on-Trent. A series of events and activities throughout the year will promote reading for enjoyment and help parents to support their children’s literacy skills.
Local businesses will also have the opportunity to support the campaign and commit to boosting literacy levels in their city, helping to amplify the resource of the Literacy Hub. More information will be revealed at an event for businesses early in 2017.
National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said:
“We are delighted to be working in Stoke-on-Trent, a city with such rich literary and cultural heritage, to make literacy a priority. We are looking forward to building innovative partnerships with local businesses, libraries, schools and other organisations, and taking the best literacy interventions to local communities. Together we can ensure that every young person in Stoke has the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.”
Councillor Janine Bridges, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for education and economy, said:
“We’re thrilled to be welcoming a Literacy Hub to the city, it is a fantastic opportunity for all schools to access more resources and strengthen their curriculums. It will also boost our innovative and award-winning programmes such as Stoke Speaks Out which supports families so that their young children enter education with better communication skills.
“We’re committed to doing all we can to continue to drive up literacy levels across the city, there is much room for further improvement and the literacy hub will help with this. It is crucial that young people are equipped with the skills that can help them flourish in life. We want ours to be a city of skilled workers, who can really add value to our economy, supporting growth and improving the quality of life for residents.”
Chief Executive of the City Learning Trust, Carl Ward said:
"Good levels of literacy have always been the cornerstone of good education and we are very pleased to be a founding partner in the establishment of this much needed initiative. Good literacy provides the confidence for people to develop and is the key to social mobility. We look forward to working with partners to help to develop the very best opportunities for literacy to thrive and support the generation of confident, successful people."
Stoke-on-Trent is the fourth National Literacy Trust Hub, joining Middlesbrough, Bradford and Peterborough, where successful initiatives have led to improved literacy outcomes.