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Published 7th Dec 2017

National Literacy Trust hub in Middlesbrough leading the way in raising literacy levels

A revolutionary local approach to raising literacy levels in Middlesbrough is now being rolled out in five other areas of the country.

The National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough, which is branded as the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign, was launched in 2013. The National Literacy Trust and Middlesbrough Council convene and work with a range of local partners including businesses, health, education and cultural organisations, to address the town’s unique literacy challenges and raise literacy levels.

The success of this unique approach led to National Literacy Hubs being launched in Peterborough and Bradford in 2014, Stoke-on-Trent in 2016 and now Swindon and Nottingham Hubs are set to launch in 2018. The approach in each area is tailored in response to local community challenges, targets and needs.

Since the launch of the Middlesbrough Hub, significant progress has been made to close the early years development gap between children in the town and the rest of the country. Between 2013 and 2015, around 200 families in Middlesbrough took part in the National Literacy Trust’s Early Words Together programme, which empowers parents to support their children’s literacy development.

In the schools that took part, more children achieved a good level of development at age five, narrowing the gap with the national average from 24.8 percentage points in 2013 to 12.5 percentage points in 2015. In the schools that have continued the programme over last two years, the gap with the national average has decreased to just 8.5 percentage points in 2017.

The Middlesbrough Hub works closely with Public Health to drive awareness of the importance of early years literacy and language development. Information about talking and reading to babies is included in every baby’s personal child health record and books are gifted to new and expectant parents. This shared Public Health and literacy agenda is seen as best practice and inspires work in other National Literacy Trust Hubs.

In 2015, an innovative project to support the parents of premature babies was piloted in Middlesbrough. Working with James Cook University Hospital and premature baby charity Bliss, parents whose babies are on the neonatal project are supported with book packs and nursing staff have received literacy training. The project was Highly Commended by the Third Sector’s Business Charity Award in 2016 and has since been replicated in Bradford and Stoke-on-Trent.

Allison Potter, Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough said:

“Since launching almost five years ago, the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign has achieved fantastic success, inspiring local organisations to champion literacy and encouraging families to read together. We are delighted to see Middlesbrough leading the way in local literacy initiatives, with four other towns and cities following suit.

“We are looking forward to continuing our work in the town and launching new initiatives in the coming months, including a trail of book-shaped benches based on Middlesbrough’s favourite books to engage local residents and families with books and reading in a unique way.”

To find out more about the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign, visit www.turningpages.co.uk



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