THE Oxford Mail-backed Reading Campaign has been praised by the organisers of a world summit on literacy.

On Monday, April 14, Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands will come to Oxford to launch this year’s World Literacy Summit at the Sheldonian Theatre.

Speaking ahead of the launch, which is run in conjunction with Oxford University Press (OUP), the event’s chairman Keith Hutchence welcomed the impact the initiative has had.

The campaign was launched in 2012 to boost literacy levels in Key Stage 2 children at primary schools after it was revealed the county was the worst-performing in the country.

Mr Hutchence said: “The Reading Campaign has reached a much wider audience than just Oxfordshire – we have discussed it at our headquarters in Melbourne. It is a great story. We have been in touch with Melinda Tilley (Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for education) and she is going to come to the summit.

“There is a very diverse population in Oxfordshire, and more so in the city, and some schools had to develop very specialised programmes to address the problems.”

The World Literacy Summit was last hosted in Oxford two years ago and Mr Hutchence said he was glad it was coming back to the city.

He added: “If you think about it, in many ways, Oxford is the home to the English language – OUP produce the Oxford English Dictionary.

“Literacy improves economies and allows people to take control of their own future. People think literacy troubles just affect third world countries, but it is important across the world, and people in Oxfordshire can understand that.”

Melinda Tilley, cabinet member for education, said: “Continually improving literacy standards across the county is central to our strategy.

“Eighteen months ago, we pledged £585,000 to support the Oxford Mail-backed Reading Campaign.

“Headteachers promoting the scheme tell us that the scheme is proving to be hugely beneficial and latest figures reflect that: the number of seven to 11-year-olds achieving a good level of progress has risen from 85 to 90 per cent in the last 12 months.

“We welcome the opportunity to participate in any initiative that raises awareness of literacy issues and gives us all an opportunity to share expertise, discuss new solutions and reflect on how to further improve.”