A MAJOR campaign to get Oxfordshire reading has been launched by Oxfordshire County Council, backed by the Oxford Mail.

The authority has set aside more than £500,000 for the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.

The goal is for a dramatic increase in the proportion of children achieving the higher levels at Key Stage 1 reading – which are taken by seven-year-olds – and to foster a life-long love of reading.

The campaign, run by the National Literacy Trust, will see volunteers being sent in to read with the children who need the most help in 81 ‘focus’ schools, plus a range of school improvement measures including training.

Today find out how firefighters are helping the campaign and how one community is committed to getting young and old hooked on books:

CHILDREN, parents, teachers and older members of an Oxfordshire town are all reading together.

Carterton Community College has launched a book club aimed at getting a whole community reading together, and kicked off proceedings with a visit from author Phil Earle.

More than 30 people attended the first meeting and it is hoped eventually there will be hundreds of people in the club.

English teacher Chris Davies said he hoped to engage older members of the community but had been pleased to see youngsters from neighbouring primaries and their parents.

He said: “There seemed to be a real willingness to engage collaboratively with the project.”

Carterton Community College is investing time and money into improving literacy standards and Mr Davies was full of praise for the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign – and stressed the importance of reading.

Four of the college’s feeder primary schools are among those invited to take part in the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.

He said: “It is very much in the collective conscience of schools that reading and literacy is very high on the Oxford agenda.

“When you have David Cameron talking about Oxfordshire schools that coast and students don’t make the appropriate progress, clearly there is an imperative for English teachers and literacy specialists to raise the profile of reading and literacy.”

He added: “Historically we don’t teach reading in the rudimentary sense in secondary school, we ‘do’ reading and for many years we assumed that was sufficient – but you have to teach reading rather than hoping that by osmosis it will somehow magically happen.

“We are teaching reading through programmes in school and the book club is mainly about ‘doing’ the reading element – the idea being it is for fun, it’s creative and inspiring.”

The book club has bought 120 copies of Phil Earle’s Being Billy, which members can borrow free of charge and there are still copies available through the school.

Among those who attended the first meeting was catering assistant Marlene Pearce and her daughter Charlotte, 14.

Mrs Pearce said she had been impressed the impact of meeting the author had on her daughter.

She said: “My daughter uses the library quite a lot and since his talk, she’s got a lot more books out.

“When she came home she was so inspired, it was unbelievable.”

She backed the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign, which she said was “very important”.

She said: “Things like the book club make it slightly more fun, they can talk to the author and feel there is a human person at the other side of the book.

“In this age of computers and games, kids forget to read and it is a shame, so I’m definitely pleased to hear about the campaign.”

The next meeting of Carterton Community College Book Club will be on Wednesday, October 24, at 6pm at the school in Upavon Way.


THE Oxfordshire Reading Campaign was launched by Oxfordshire County Council, backed by the Oxford Mail, to improve reading standards in the youngest children.

The goals are to:

Improve the proportion of children who reach Level 2B at Key Stage 1 to 86 per cent – a rise of 12 percentage points

Increase enjoyment of and confidence in reading. Eighty-one schools across the county, chosen on Key Stage 1 results over the last three years, are being invited to take part. The campaign is being run by the National Literacy Trust and will involve:

A reading intervention programme called Project X Code working with Year 2 children in up to 81 county primaries

Volunteers coming in to read one to one with the children involved in the Poroject X Code programme

Training and professional development for teachers, teaching assistants, literacy co-ordinators and headteachers.