Reading is important for all children, as is access to books. Ensuring that the books we donate through our Book Drive reflect the backgrounds and identities of the children we support helps young people to make sense of the world around them and increases their overall literacy skills.
We know that many children from disadvantaged backgrounds have fallen even further behind since the pandemic, with numeracy and literacy attainment hitting its lowest level. In autumn 2021, the average primary school pupil had lost 1.9 months in maths and 0.8 months in reading. Disadvantaged children lost an additional 0.3 months in maths and 0.4 months in reading. As Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi states in the March 2022 white paper ‘Opportunity for all’, ‘we must do more to ensure every child can access cornerstone literacy and numeracy skills, wherever they live and learn’.
The Government’s pledge is to support any child who falls behind in Maths or English to get the support they need to get back on track. Having secure foundations in these subjects is key for wider learning, and for improving future life chances. With the disadvantage gap growing further, our World Book day campaign couldn’t come soon enough for some children.
Throughout the month of March, we teamed up with our incredible corporate partners to celebrate World Book Day. Together, corporate partners donated over 304 books to our partner schools, with over 122 of these books focusing on equality, diversity and inclusion.
“We received an incredible amount of books which were all based on a push on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. They will be invaluable in providing our students an insight into different areas of life and different experiences using literature for support. These books will be used throughout the school, and are being written into the curriculum in various topics including PSHE, English and History. We are extremely grateful for the donations and cannot express our gratitude enough.” Katy-Anne Waite, School-Home Support Practitioner
Alongside these generous donations, volunteers from Provident Financial Group also gave up their time to read in schools to celebrate World Book Day. This provided a fantastic opportunity for the young children we support, encouraging them to engage with literacy and build meaningful relationships. For some of the children we work with, reading is an escapism and distracts them from other challenges in their lives. As well as being a beneficial experience for the children we support, our corporate partners had a wonderful time reading with the children and found it to be a fulfilling experience.
“Being able to read with the children at St Columba’s was a great way to share my passion for books and to hopefully inspire a love of reading in the younger generations. The children were excited to hear the new stories I had for them, and I was able to share one of my own childhood favourites…Burglar Bill! Sharing reading in this way has so many benefits, not just in terms of literacy. It teaches us all sorts about emotions and other people’s feelings, about listening and respect, and helps improve creativity and attention span. As Dr Seuss said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Kirsty Jones, Senior Strategic Risk Manager, Provident Financial Group
Our amazing corporate partners Liberum give up their time weekly to volunteer to read in one of our partner schools. This is a fantastic opportunity for children to build meaningful relationships, and plays a role in helping to close the literacy attainment gap that has grown due to the pandemic. The children look forward to these weekly visits, and we’re incredibly grateful for Liberum’s support.
In addition, our fantastic corporate partners Weil, Gotshal & Manges launched a ‘Superheros’ creative writing competition at Grafton Primary School. Director of Pro Bono & Corporate Responsibility and children’s author, Rob Powell, delivered an inspiring creative writing session for Year 5 pupils, outlining the key steps of storytelling. Following this session, children were given the opportunity to write a story of their own, based on the superhero brief provided. We had numerous amazing stories submitted that were judged by 31 Weil employee volunteers. On 1 April, Weil employees Tobias Desouza and Sarah Chase gave prizes to the winners of the competition, and presented a certificate to everyone who took part.
Tobias Desouza, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Apprentice at Weil, commented “It was incredibly rewarding to congratulate these budding young authors on their superb stories, their enthusiasm to take-part was very refreshing. A huge thank you to School-Home Support for helping us to run this programme so successfully.”
It was a fantastic initiative enjoyed by the children and volunteers alike, with Grafton Primary School deputy head teacher Roz Porter Tibbey commenting“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for coming in to see us. Occasions like that have such a huge impact on the children; it was really special. The children have really enjoyed this experience and it’s wonderful to have visitors to inspire them.”
We are incredibly grateful to our corporate partners for making World Book Day an exciting time for the children we work with. We couldn’t do this without you!