(Six Book Challenge completers with Captain Andy Chambers and Lt Col Jane Hunter from Educational and Training Services.)
The Six Book Challenge has been piloted successfully at a range of Army bases this year including Catterick, Cyprus and Tidworth in Wiltshire.
The Learning Development Wing tried it with recruits from Gurkha Company, Intake 2013, at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC), Catterick as part of their eight-week Recruit English Package (REP). This package is designed to enhance and develop the recruits' English abilities to allow them to integrate more successfully with the wider Army upon reaching their units. Students work towards achieving Functional Skills qualifications which put them in line with their British and Foreign & Commonwealth counterparts when working towards promotion later in their careers.
As Captain Andy Chambers explains: "An essential part of English language training is the ability to read text and comprehend it and one of the best ways to do this is to promote reading for enjoyment. The Six Book Challenge was run in conjunction with North Yorkshire County Council's library service which supplied the materials and encouraged students to borrow books, enabling them to improve their reading skills without the pressures linked with a classroom environment or the feeling of organised learning. The recruits ploughed into the scheme with gusto and displayed a desire to read a variety of different topics ranging from information about military vehicles, comparisons of world religions and even the odd romantic novel."
To date we have seven recruits who have successfully completed the scheme with many more only a few reads away," says Andy. "It's a pleasing result given the incredibly hectic schedule for a recruit at ITC. We look forward to engaging with the scheme in greater depth next year and plan to use the opportunity to have Gurkha recruits research further into their own Brigade heritage and gain a deeper understanding of the wider British Army.
"We heartily recommend the scheme to any learner who has a desire to improve their reading skills and hopefully kindle a passion for reading that will continue for many years."
The Six Book Challenge has received similar endorsement at 10 Army Education Centre in Tidworth where soldiers were visited earlier in the year by Six Book Challenge ambassador Andy McNab.
Signaller Ashley Brimelow from 215 Signal Squadron was the lucky winner of the 'Big Read Challenge'. "I read the books on my phone while I was waiting to pick someone up at the airport!" said Sig Brimelow. " I never used to read much before and if my Sergeant Major hadn't suggested it, I wouldn't have bothered, but I read six books in two weeks and now I can't stop - I really like reading now!"
He was presented with a Kindle by Lt Col Stuart Barltrop, Commander ETS, pictured above with Kirsty Alderson, Basic Skills Development Manager. "A huge number of soldiers who started the challenge, completed it - and enjoyed it," reports Kirsty. "They found reading a good alternative to the Xbox!"
Workplaces can run the 2014 Six Book Challenge by purchasing materials from our shop.
Please contact Genevieve.Clarke@readingagency.org.uk or David.Kendall@readingagency.org.uk with any questions about running the Six Book Challenge.