The Telegraph reports on a new competition which aims to improve literacy among children in the UK. It will be launched on Monday 31 January on BBC Radio 2, 'The Chris Evans Breakfast Show' at 6.30am-9.30am. In agreement with such ventures, Government Education Advisor, Pie Corbett stated, "There’s an increasing number of children from better-off homes who are arriving at school without the advantage that reading brings". A similar sentiment was expressed by the director of BookTrust's free-books-for- children programmes, Rosemary Clarke, who commented, “I see plenty of well-off homes with not a book in sight,” she says. “Loads of DVDs, TVs and PCs, but no books. Alternatively, I see shelves full of books that are never opened.” Full story
The Independent reports on the decision by the National Curriculum Council to teach joined-up handwriting to younger children to help them develop good handwriting practices. The link between good handwriting and good spelling is made by Headteacher Linda McWalter, who stated, "It is definitely beneficial...by the time they are six most of them are writing quite fluently with a joined hand. It helps their spelling, too". Full story
BBC News shares the findings from the Ofsted report, Removing Barriers to Literacy. This new report identifies the need to address communication problems in young children before beginning phonics work needed for learning to read. It found that those children who had problems with listening and speaking also had diffculties with literacy. England's Communication Champion for Children and Young People, Jean Gross commented: "Ofsted is right about the importance of speaking and listening skills for literacy...these core skills underpin all learning, including reading and writing. Phonic skills are vital for children, but they need to sit alongside good speaking and listening skills...If children can't express themselves or understand spoken language, all the phonics in the world won't help them to become good readers." Full story
Will The Success of The King's Speech Lead To Greater Help For Children With Communication Problems?
The Independent reports that the UK's Communications Trust is hoping that the success of The King's Speech will lead to improved help for children with communication problems. The Communications Trust is launching the Hello 2011 Year of Communication Campaign in order to help improve awareness of the 1.2 million children in the UK with communication difficulties. They identify that approximately one in ten children 'suffer from some form of long-term and persistent difficulty in communicating, ranging from an inability to say words or construct sentences, to problems understanding instructions and lessons'. Full story
The Guardian reports on a planned reading scheme which will allow military staff to choose the same books as their family members back home. Reading Force will be launched in March 2011 and is the brainchild of soldier's wife and university lecturer, Alison Baverstock, who commented, "Your existence can seem quite humdrum in comparison to theirs – and you can't ask them what they are doing [because military details are secret]. Being able to talk about a book we're both reading is great because it gives us some common ground."
The Independent documents the continuing protests against the planned closure of hundreds of libraries across Britain. It is said that Charles Dickens once described libraries as a "source of pleasure and improvements in the cottages, the garrets and the ghettos of the poorest of our people". Remembering this and also that the aim of the Public Library Act was to "raise educational standards throughout society", such closures will surely mark the end of this important part of British life.
The Independent reports on the continuing battle to prevent the impending closure of hundreds of libraries across Britain. Some well-known campaigners are calling these acts 'an attack on Britain's cultural and knowledge base'. Annie Mauger, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), commented, "This is not just about what libraries do, it is about what they represent: free access to knowledge and information for everyone. It feels Orwellian that we'll wake up one day and a third of all the libraries are gone. Is that the type of society we want?" Full story
The Telegraph reports on the impending closure of Christ The King secondary school in the UK because of a lack of students. Championed by the previous UK government as being 'more than a school', its closure leaves a multimillion pound debt for taxpayers as well as an enormous personal cost to residents. One mother, Sarah Flyles, whose 11 yr old child started the school last September, commented, " Five streets closed to make way for the school and to last just two years is a huge waste of money, absolutely stupid." Full story