Scheme to develop early childhood literacy in Hastings is having an impact

Reading signs in the park
Reading signs in the park

A fun new programme designed to develop early literacy among children in Hastings has seen youngsters visit libraries and take part in creative events since it launched in January.

REAL Creative (Raise Early Achievement in Literacy) supports parents and children at eight early years organisations in the town to work together to develop early literacy.

Reading signs

Reading signs

The programme includes two home visits, a library visit and a series of creative events, delivered in partnership with cultural venues including Hastings Museum, De La Warr Pavilion and the Jerwood.

Participating organisations have already visited the library and taken part in events – with Christchurch and FSN’s St Nicks visiting Alexandra Park and Artemis nurseries visiting Hastings Museum.

Tracey Rose, chief executive of FSN, said: “FSN is delighted to be part of the REAL project, supporting children and families with early literacy and making use of the fantastic creative venues that we have in Hastings.

“It is great to see the impact that the project is having on children’s learning and development.”

Ann Foxall, librarian at East Sussex Libraries, said: “It’s never too early to encourage children to develop a love of reading, and libraries have an important role to play.

“This scheme is all about encouraging families to take advantage of the wonderful resources available at our libraries and to share the joy of reading together.”

The programme builds on the work of the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) REAL programme, an evidence-based approach developed by academics at the University of Sheffield which revolves around the four strands of early literacy – oral language, early mark making, a love of books and environmental print.

All the events are structured around creating opportunities for parents and carers to interact with their children and recognise and support these early steps in literacy.

The scheme, which started in January and will run until July, builds on a pilot delivered across Hastings and Bexhill last year by the NCB.

The pilot resulted in large numbers of new families registering with the local library, significant developments in early literacy, families enjoying creative activities together more and a recognition of the value that cultural spaces offer children and families.

REAL Creative is a partnership between FSN, Culture Shift and East Sussex County Council and has been funded by Hastings Opportunity Area, Sussex Community Foundation and Hastings and the St Leonards Early Years Hub.

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