Image: City College Coventry
Today we announce new promotional materials for Reading Ahead 2017/18 to mark the programme's tenth anniversary. Launched as the Six Book Challenge in 2008, the programme has grown seven-fold in ten years. In 2016 it reached 45,000 young people and adults through public libraries, colleges, prisons and workplaces, changing their perception of reading, opening up opportunities and building their confidence.
Boosting success for colleges
Image: Glasgow College
An estimated nine million adults of working age in England have low literacy or numeracy skills or both and younger people between 16 and 24 lag behind older adults. Around 128,000 college students are currently resitting their GCSE English Language having not previously achieved a grade C.
Reading Ahead has been run by more than 90 Further Education and sixth form colleges across the UK this year and is increasingly being used to support students who are taking or retaking GCSE English Language as well Functional Skills and ESOL courses. Uxbridge College achieved 1006 completers in 2016 across courses ranging from ESOL to GCSE. Those who completed Reading Ahead had a 10% higher success rate including for GCSE English and Maths, rising to a 12.5% uplift for Functional Skills.
Gavin Hughes, Director of Learning & Support Services at Uxbridge College says:
"We are extremely happy with the results of Reading Ahead. We know we are doing the right thing - everybody is engaged in it."
Catherine Sezen, Senior Policy Manager for 14-19 and Curriculum at the Association of Colleges, says:
"Reading is a key skill whether it is for pleasure or work. Reading Ahead can help increase reading fluency and vocabulary, but most importantly the joy of picking up a good book."
The Education and Training Foundation has included Reading Ahead case studies on its Excellence Gateway to support English teachers. Sue Southwood, Head of Maths and English, says:
"Engaging learners with the Reading Ahead programme builds the skills and knowledge that underpin both GCSE English and Functional Skills."
Changing attitudes to reading
Northampton College has been running Reading Ahead for the full ten years and recently held its celebration event. For the sixth year running they will receive a gold award from The Reading Agency in 2017 for supporting well over 150 students to complete the programme, this year mainly drawn from ESOL and Supported Learning courses.
Principal Pat Brennan-Barrett says:
"The Reading Ahead programme has enriched our student offer - opened up new challenges and rewarded so many with the gift of literacy. It has been a revelation to see how many of our students and staff have benefited from the programme - year after year. Thank you."
The college is particularly pleased to have engaged Foundation Studies students in Reading Ahead this year. Chrissy Gamble, Lecturer in Foundation and English, who teaches a group at Level 1, explains:
"The students in my group range from 16 - 18 years of age and most of them would have said, 'Read? I don't read!' before doing Reading Ahead. I have taken great pride in watching the students develop their reading skills and even their ability to discuss what they have read and enjoyed. Every Functional Skills lesson now incorporates half an hour of reading."
Students share her positive reaction. Caitlin King says:
"Reading Ahead helped me to improve my reading not only in my head but out loud."
Georgia Savage says:
"It helped me to actually take my time and read a book and it also inspired me to read more when I am at home and doing nothing."
Order your materials by the end of July to ensure delivery for September. We offer an Early Bird discount until Tuesday 10 October.
See our resources page for guidance and tips on how to run Reading Ahead.
If you're running Reading Ahead this year we'd love to see your pictures. Share them on Twitter using #ReadingAhead