A campaign to improve literacy for young people in Hastings and St Leonards is launching today (Friday, January 25) thanks to a partnership between the National Literacy Trust and the Department for Education’s Opportunity Area in Hastings.
Get Hastings Reading is a new initiative to inspire children and young people to read for pleasure and gain the confidence they need to make the most of every opportunity. It launches with a host of literacy events happening across the town, ranging from a book-themed bus tour to exciting assemblies in 14 local schools.
Children in year 5 and 6 from five local primary schools will hop on board a book-themed bus tour with local performance poet Lucas Howard. The children – who come from Robsack Wood Community Primary Academy, Hollington Primary Academy, Little Ridge Primary Academy, Ore Village Primary Academy, and The Baird Primary Academy – will participate in an interactive performance and be inspired by communication in all its forms. Each child will be gifted a new book, donated by Penguin Random House UK, and a Get Hastings Reading bookmark to take home.
An additional 14 primary, secondary and special schools will also be celebrating the launch through literacy-themed assemblies on the day. Each will be delivered by guest speakers and storytellers including the Rt Hon Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and professional storyteller Kevin Graal. While there, they will launch 100 Reads – a hunt for the town’s top book recommendations – and donate a bundle of books, from Walker Books, for their library.
The day will finish with an event held at Stade Hall where local partners and dignitaries will learn more about the campaign and pledge their support. The Rt Hon Amber Rudd will speak at the event, alongside Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust and students from Ark Helenswood Academy.
Educational outcomes in Hastings have improved in recent years, driven by a range of initiatives and commitment from local schools and organisations across the area. Get Hastings Reading will build on this progress by inspiring children and young people to read for pleasure, and equipping them with the skills they need to succeed. Schools, colleges, local partners and the wider community will all be involved.
Hastings is one of 12 areas in England chosen by the Department for Education as Opportunity Areas. The town will benefit from increased funding to improve social mobility and unlock the potential of England’s young people through education.
Jonathan Douglas, National Literacy Trust director, said: “We are delighted to be launching this campaign in Hastings and St Leonards as part of the exciting Opportunity Area programme. We know that place-based work, partnership activation and community mobilisation are proven methods of improving literacy behaviours. Together, we can use the power of words to transform children’s life stories.”
Graeme Quinnell, manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Hastings, said: “Literacy forms the building blocks to success – without the ability to read, children are locked out of academic achievement and can struggle to find a fulfilling career. We hope that Get Hastings Reading will help children and families fall in love with reading and writing, raise aspirations, and give them the literacy skills they need to succeed.”
Richard Meddings, independent chairman of the Hastings Opportunity Area, said: “I am delighted that so many people across Hastings are supporting the town-wide campaign to Get Hastings Reading. I encourage everyone – young and old, business, schools, colleges and community groups – to get involved in the campaign and get reading!”
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi added: “We want to instil a love of books from a young age and the Get Hastings Reading campaign will help champion literacy, so that young people have the confidence in reading and writing they need to make the most of every opportunity.
“The Opportunity Area programme is about investing in young people from disadvantaged areas, providing support and experiences to help broaden the horizons of young people in Hastings and give them the confidence to fulfil their ambitions, whatever they may be.”
If you are interested in volunteering in Hastings or learning more about the campaign, contact Graeme Quinnell on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit gethastingsreading.org.uk.