Stoke-on-Trent parents to be given lessons in reading
MUMS and dads are to be taught how to read with their children as part of a major campaign to transform literacy skills across the city.
The Stoke Reads scheme will be initially piloted with 80 parents, who will be trained up to use fun techniques so they can get pre-school children excited about books.
Many of the sessions will take place in libraries and children's centres, but some of the coaching could even be offered in family homes.
Education experts say while the vast majority of families do read with their children, some simply recite a story and don't get the youngsters to interact with the book.
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They say this is one of the reasons why more than 40 per cent of the city's three-year-olds start school with literacy levels below the national standard.
Results for seven-year-olds also show Stoke-on-Trent is at the bottom of league tables in England for reading, writing and maths.
Stoke Reads is one of a series of projects being planned for the next three years, which will involve everyone from toddlers through to teenagers.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is working with headteachers on developing the 'raising achievement' strategy. Dot Hulley, strategic manager for school improvement, said: "We want our pupils to have a love of books. The plan is going to be quite adventurous."
Getting parents involved in building children's 'pre-reading skills' is seen as crucial.
Librarians, the charity Volunteer Reading Help, speech and language therapists and other professionals will support the training sessions, which will eventually be rolled out across the city.
Mrs Hulley added: "We want parents to understand there are lots of cues and pictures in books, so it's not necessarily about the words.
"It's about getting young children used to turning the pages and looking at a book from left to right. There are also predictive skills, where they try to guess what happens next.
"It's also about snuggling up with your mum or dad to read a book."
Other plans include getting high school students to create storytelling videos to bring plots alive for infant pupils.
Some of these innovative approaches will also be tracked by university researchers to see how much impact they are having in the classroom.
There will also be:
More outdoor education activities and trips to inspire children's writing;
Specialist literacy teachers recruited to work in under-performing schools;
A new focus on weaving literacy work into every subject at high school level;
More training for staff on using reading intervention programmes;
Greater links between primary schools and libraries;
And a more structured approach to supporting children as they move from play-based activities in reception to more formal learning in year one.
Councillor Alan Dutton, cabinet member for education, said: "The strategy proposes innovative ways of promoting reading, involving parents and the young. Developing reading from an early age is vital."