Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reap the Rewards of Reading; Get Your Head in Books: Gordon Brown Launches the National Year of Reading. Right, Family Learning at Addington School, Croydon

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reap the Rewards of Reading; Get Your Head in Books: Gordon Brown Launches the National Year of Reading. Right, Family Learning at Addington School, Croydon

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH RICHARDSON

THE National Year of Reading, launched at 10 Downing Street last week,aims to provide a challenge to schools, business, arts, sport and localservices. The National Literacy Trust and The Reading Agency have beenappointed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to managethe year's activities, which they hope will raise awareness of the importanceof reading.

Campaigns and activities will inspire everyone to read more, with a focus onreluctant readers, those with low confidence, and boys and fathers. Readingco-ordinators in 146 local authorities across England will work with localeducation, community, library and leisure services, businesses and the media todeliver National Year of Reading campaigns and activity for local communities.

The London Borough of Croydon is already ahead of the game, with an establishedfamily learning forum to raise the profile of family learning and take astrategic approach to the promotion of learning to the local population.

Members of the forum include the children's centres' strategic manager, theextended schools development manager, the children's library manager and thehead of the Skills for Life programme as well as representatives from thePre-School Learning Alliance, the NHS primary care trust, fathers' groups,Croydon College, Parentline Plus, the Ethnic Minority Achievement Service, theMuseum Education Service and a local parentgovernor.

Catherine Rhys is Croydon's informal learning manager. "Family learningprovides a range of opportunities for families to learn together in order toraise skills across generations," she says. "Programmes take place inpartnership with schools or organisations such as libraries, children's centresand youth clubs. They enable families to learn in a relaxed and fun atmosphereand picking up ideas to reinforce learning at home." For many adults a familylearning course can be the first step to taking up further adult learning andtraining opportunities or gaining a job.

Research has shown that families are our first and most important teachers, andthat parental support is a key factor throughout a child's education. …

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