The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson today launched a new reading and literacy project to help young children (aged 3-5 years) who are struggling with their learning development. The scheme will work with families and equip them with the skills to boost their children’s literacy and prepare them for school entry. Popstar Peter Andre joined the Mayor at the launch, alongside local school children and their parents at Botwell Green Library.
The new project is part of Team London, the Mayor's strategy to s harness volunteers and philanthropic money to deliver key projects to improve the quality of life and opportunities of Londoners. The scheme, run by the National Literacy Trust, will recruit 500 volunteers from across the city who will work with over 2,000 families in 12 boroughs. The Mayor is encouraging interested adults to consider taking on one of two roles:
- Literacy Champions – 360 volunteers will work on a one to one basis with families whose children are identified as having learning development issues. Over an eight week period, volunteers will encourage the parents to make reading part of their actitvies, introduce fun phoneitcal games to boost speech development and prepare them for successful transition to infant school.
- Reading Ambassadors will bring additional support to literacy schemes across boroughs, including participating in library story times and reading workshops
The Mayor, Boris Johnson said: “Improving childhood literacy unlocks a myriad of opportunities and bestows a life long passion for learning. It is desperately unfair that hundreds of children in our city enter education struggling with the basic language and learning skills they need to succeed in the classroom. Every parent wants the best start for their child, and this fantastic new scheme will equip them with the mechanisms to make literacy a fun part of their children’s daily lives. Everyone who has an interest in helping should get in touch to help truly make a difference.”
Pop star and father, Peter Andre is backing the new scheme and has stressed the importance of parents reading to their kids.
Peter Andre said: “As a child I adored books and listening to the fantastic stories my parents would tell me and my brother. Now I’m a parent myself, I’ve shared that passion for stories with my children. I love talking to them about their day and reading them bed time stories. Reading doesn’t need to be a chore, and the earlier we get our kids to embrace it, the better.”
National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said: “The National Literacy Trust’s work has demonstrated that friends, neighbours and other community members can help parents support the literacy of their children. This is particularly important for parents with low literacy who may be less confident using services such as libraries and children’s centres. With an estimated 1 in 5 parents in London struggling with basic literacy, we hope the scheme will make a huge difference to families in the capital.”
Parental support is critical for children’s educational development, and as their children's first and most important educators, parents have a vital role to play. The Mayor’s scheme aims to equip thousands of families with the practical skills to increase their children’s learning.
By supporting parents, the Mayor hopes to improve the life chances of some of the most disdavantged children. Members of the public interested in becoming London Literacy Champions can find out more and register now at www.literacytrust.org.uk/volunteers
The Mayor will launch the wider Team London programme later this month and bring together voluntary community organisations to utilise the goodwill that is explicit across the city to tackle crime, increase opportunities for young people and improve the environment.
Notes to editor
1. Team London With the support of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and founding supporter the Reuben Foundation, London will be the first city outside the United States to have a programme based on the successful ‘Cities of Service’ model instigated in New York, which has been replicated by cities across America.
Team London Star The Mayor is calling on Londoners to help him to uncover some of the capital's unsung heroes. More than 70 per cent of Londoners volunteer their time and energy at least once a year and the Mayor wants to publically recognise this goodwill, which plays a valuable part in helping to transform the city and improve local communities. Londoners are being asked to nominate those who give up their time to help others to become a Team London Star. For more information go to
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