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Firefighters help to set campaign alight
Buy this photo » Firefighter Adam Whitehead with Luke Howie at Bishop Loveday School in Banbury
THEY come in wearing full firefighting uniform – but instead of showing off their fire engines, these firefighters are here to talk about books.
One of the most powerful ways of getting young children interested in reading is using role models, such as firefighters, to show how important reading is.
The Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is one of the many organisations getting behind the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign, an initiative backed by the Oxford Mail, aimed at engendering a love for the written word and improving literacy results.
And some firefighters have already been doing their bit helping increase enthusiasm for books and reading.
Fire risk manager Pete Graham said: “We’re thrilled that we’re going to be involved with the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign having already undertaken successful work in the north of Oxfordshire that has led to an improvement in results in one of our primary schools.”
Firefighters have been working with Bishop Loveday Primary School, in Banbury, as part of their ‘Safer By Design’ programme to help make communities safer and more self-reliant.
Using specially-designed Drago the Dragon books, firefighters went into school over a four-month period and read with young children, mainly boys aged eight to 10.
Mr Graham said: “As a result we have been able to improve reading standards as well as starting to plant seeds of knowledge in the minds of young people about how to stay safe.
“It is this kind of thing that we’d like to replicate in other schools across Oxfordshire as part of the wider campaign.”
Mr Graham said there had been an improvement in the school’s SATs results since the school took part, although those are yet to be published.
David Brooks was among the firefighters taking part.
He said: “We really enjoyed meeting the children at Bishop Loveday School earlier this year, and listening to them read.
“This was an opportunity for us to become more involved in a local school and to forge positive relationships with young people.”
Headteacher Chris Woodward said: “Having male role models into school is really powerful. We are continuously encouraging our children to read extensively and have tried theme days and reading quests, the use of ebooks and use of volunteers in order to give the children a range of experiences which will make them life long readers.
“Having professional adults who have the enthusiasm and experience of reading for enjoyment is a real bonus.”