WEST Oxfordshire’s top police officer has backed the Oxford Mail’s reading campaign and said it is essential children learn to read.

Chief Inspector Colin Paine said the campaign was “a great idea” and said reading helped set children free to explore their imagination.

The area commander for West Oxfordshire also said you could not be an effective police officer without an good ability for reading.

The reading campaign is an Oxfordshire County Council initiative which is being run by the National Literacy Trust and backed by the Oxford Mail.

County Hall has set aside £500,000 to improve children’s literacy and youngsters’ enjoyment and confidence in reading. It comes after the city was named as the worst in the country in all subjects at Key Stage 1 in 2010.

But in September, the proportion of Oxford schoolchildren achieving expected levels in reading and writing at seven showed improvement.

Mr Paine said: “It is essential that children read. Reading sets them free to explore a world of their own imagination rather than being constrained by the images of television.

“The ability to understand the nuances within the text equips them well for the ambiguities of later life.”

He added: “I read to my three-year-old most evenings. It provides an opportunity to spend some cosy time together and talk about the pictures.

“She has many favourites, including Peppa Pig books and Harry and the Bucket full of Dinosaurs.”

Mr Paine, who is studying criminology, also said reading was important later in life.

He said: “It is, frankly, impossible to be an effective police officer without an aptitude for reading. I am under constant pressure to read and analyse substantial amounts of material, so I am still trying to master the skill of skim reading when needed.”

He said he reads continuously at work but admitted he was not able to read as much for fun as he would like.

He added: “However, I intentionally make time to read fiction every few months just in order to relax.

“I’m not sure I have any one favourite book, but one of my favourites is The Child in Time by Ian McEwan.

“It is built around a single harrowing event, the kidnap of the protagonist’s young daughter and its subsequent impact on all aspects of his life.

“Despite the serious opening it has real warmth, humour and political satire throughout. I have read it many times.”


The campaign

A MAJOR campaign to get county schoolchildren reading is under way.
Launched by Oxfordshire County Council and backed by the Oxford Mail, more  than half a million pounds has been set aside to increase the number of seven-year-olds achieving the higher levels at Key Stage 1 reading and to foster a life-long love of reading. 
The  campaign, run by the National Literacy Trust, will see an army of 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 at all levels.