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Literacy initiative launched with UCL

Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, attended the launch of a new partnership between Arsenal in the Community and the University College of London’s Institute of Education (IOE).

The aim of the partnership is to reach more north London children with reading programmes and raise educational achievement through Arsenal’s ‘Double Club’ programme and the University’s (IOE) 2017 Reading Recovery Read Aloud campaign.

The Minister was given a tour of Emirates Stadium before listening to a group of pupils aged between five and seven years old. The children she met have benefitted from either the work of Arsenal’s Double Club or the IOE’s International Literacy Centre (ILC) as both programmes have helped children enjoy and improve their literacy skills.

Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, said: “It is brilliant to see literacy and sporting activities working together today with the Reading Recovery Read Aloud initiative. I loved reading as a child, and it is really important that every child can read well. That's why the curriculum now has more focus on reading and writing, while our phonics work is helping 147,000 more children are on track to become great readers.” “Playing sport is about more than just ensuring young people are healthy and happy. Sport is also great for helping children develop team-working skills, communication skills and the ability to problem-solve, which in turn make a big difference to young people being able to reach their goals.” Arsenal’s Double Club is an award winning education programme for children in the local community. It uses football as the hook to make learning fun and engaging.

Jack McNicholl, Double Club Manager, said: “This partnership will help us reach more children in the area, and to continue to support them with their literacy development in an engaging way. We work with over 30 local schools on a weekly basis and this is fantastic opportunity to team up with UCL and the IOE to help even more children.

Read Aloud celebrates the success thousands of children who have been helped to overcome literacy difficulties by the IOE’s Reading Recovery programme. Throughout February, schools across the UK and Ireland will give children the opportunity to read books that are special to them.

Reading Recovery supports five and six year olds who are facing challenges in learning to read and write, and gives them a short, intensive catch-up with specially trained teachers. As a result, eight out of ten children catch up with their classmates within six months.

Professor Becky Frances, Director of the UCL Institute of Education, said: “Our International Literacy Centre (ILC) is at the forefront of improving outcomes in literacy education and has had considerable success with providing professional learning for teachers who work with children struggling with literacy.

I am so pleased that the Secretary of State has shown her support of Read Aloud by attending our celebration and was able to witness first-hand how Reading Recovery has benefitted some of these children.”

Both programmes aim to support pupils who are currently below the national average in reading and writing.