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New children's literacy campaign: should Mumsnet sign up?

(200 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 19-Aug-14 15:43:06

Hello everyone

The charity Save the Children, with whom we've done a bit of work in the past, is asking if Mumsnet can give its collective support to a campaign to improve children’s literacy here in the UK.

Save the Children say: “Reading is the key to a child’s future: it unlocks their potential and opens up a world filled with possibilities. For our poorest children, reading well is their best route out of poverty, but thousands of children from poorer backgrounds leave primary school not reading as well as they should.”

As ever, we'd like to know what you think about adding Mumsnet's voice to this. The aim of the campaign is to ensure that every child is a confident reader by age 11, but Save the Children's position is that to achieve this we all need to play our part. The campaign hasn't launched yet, but Save the Children will be working with a coalition of organisations, communities, parents, teachers and schools, businesspeople and politicians. They are working with a range of media, including The Sun. They don’t want to give away all their campaign tactics before the launch (understandably) but if you have any specific questions about the methods and aims of the campaign, let us know and we'll see if we can get answers for you.

Please do also use this thread to let us know what you think about Mumsnet officially getting behind this one.


ThisIsBULLSHIT Tue 19-Aug-14 15:53:02

Wow, what a great idea. I wonder what they have got planned?!

I am a teacher and am heavily involved with SEN children too so anything that sets out to improve children's prospects is a good thing. As one of our literacy consultants says 'reading makes you brainy'.

MN is full of very influential people in a broad spectrum of jobs and situations and I am sure many of us could help get this started and / or give it coverage in our everyday lives.

I have been a book giver through World Book Night for three years running so would like to sign up if there is anything you needs normal MNetters for.

Is it aimed at children who are the most likely to be behind with reading? Or children who qualify for Pupil Premium? Or any child?

Will watch with interest!

morethanpotatoprints Tue 19-Aug-14 16:12:28

I think this is a brilliant idea and think Mnet should definitely support.

VestaCurry Tue 19-Aug-14 16:14:31

Former teacher here, specifically early years trained with a heavy focus on how to teach ks1 children to read (it's surprising how many colleagues were vague about this due 'vague' training. I think it's worth asking what are the proposals for evaluating how the teaching of reading is currently taught on teacher training courses, and, whether it fits with what has been found (via research) to be the most effective way to do so. Also, the identification of children with SN isn't always happening early enough, so appropriate intervention to eg support literacy can come too late. Ask these kind of questions before you jump in to support, otherwise it's another 'bandwagon' in my opinion.

Agggghast Tue 19-Aug-14 16:22:13

Looks a brilliant idea, as a secondary English teacher we see first hand the difficulties children experience with poor literacy. When they do catch up it is almost miraculous the impact that has on them socially and academically.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 19-Aug-14 16:32:54

It sounds great, but (and this may be a stupid observation) I hope it'll be done in such a way as doesn't make adults with literacy problems feel more stigmatized. What I mean is, if they heavily promote the message that children benefit from their parents reading with them, and you're an illiterate parents, you're going to feel awful. I know children do benefit, but there's ways and ways of sending that message. Maybe help for parents who know they will struggle?

Just a very tentative thought, though.

SeagullsAndSand Tue 19-Aug-14 16:47:44

Brilliant idea(and long overdue).

Former literacy co-ordinator and teacher with 3 avid readers myself.Literacy is the cornerstone of everything.

Would love to help kids/parents with less literate parents or those that are struggling with literacy myself but no idea how or where to volunteer.Are they going to set up some kind of volunteering/buddy system?

VestaCurry Tue 19-Aug-14 16:50:18

V good point LRD, you don't need to review the research to see a link between poor literacy in parents and children. The stigma for adults is huge and so many would love to read a story to/share it with their children.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 19-Aug-14 16:52:19

Thanks vesta, was worried that might've been seen as a daft point.

Btw, I notice I've come out with the spectacularly awful '[if] you're an illiterate parents'. Sorry.

VestaCurry Tue 19-Aug-14 16:58:18

Seagulls, me too, I'd like to help. It needs a lot of thinking through eg if volunteers are working with adults, if they think dyslexia is an undiagnosed issue, what happens next? It's so important that there's a clear 'next step' for those adults. Also, the chances of inheriting dyslexia can be quite high, so how do we have a holistic approach and ensure children of dyslexics are assessed appropriately and intervention comes early enough?
Great idea and thread, because we're all bouncing off other posters' ideas.

VestaCurry Tue 19-Aug-14 16:59:10

LRD this NOT pedant corner grin!

SeagullsAndSand Tue 19-Aug-14 17:01:43

I'm a sahm atm but would love to contribute to something I love and feel I'm good at.I suspect there are many like me and OAPs like my mum who also has a teaching background and some hours to spare.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 19-Aug-14 17:02:07

smile Thanks.

I like what you say about a holistic approach. It could be really helpful.

Mitzi50 Tue 19-Aug-14 17:06:53

VestaCurry agree with you completely about reviewing teacher training and the identification of SEN. I'm an EYFS/KS1 teacher, literacy co-ordinator and just about to start an MA in Specific Learning Difficulties so this is one of my pet passions. I am always surprised by the lack of knowledge in this area.

SeagullsAndSand Tue 19-Aug-14 17:07:18

But yes thinking a partnership with schools may well be crucial.

Reading stories etc maybe not so much but say hearing kids read their school books,phonics etc it would be more beneficial if you helped to fill the gaps the schools directly involved wanted filling with each individual child,focused on areas that they were focusing on,were trained according to their preference etc.

Are they going to approach schools to find out how best to help and work in partnership?

VestaCurry Tue 19-Aug-14 17:10:43

I confess I'm talking anecdotally here, but I feel that initiatives in the past may have had too wide a remit? This needs a targeted approach. What does current existing research tell us about illiteracy in children/adults/families? How can we harness that information to test the best way forward? It is great when large charities want to commit to a cause, but of course any money needs to be spent wisely.

GrossMeister Tue 19-Aug-14 17:14:13

Yes, I would absolutely support this!

enviousllama Tue 19-Aug-14 17:22:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mitzi50 Tue 19-Aug-14 17:31:41

I think a great starting point would be implementing the suggestions made The Rose Report "Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties" 2009 within schools

IMO literacy difficulties cause huge problems for the whole of society Clarke and Dugdale wrote a discussion paper published on the National Literacy Trust "Literacy Changes Lives The role of literacy in offending behaviour" (2008) which highlights this.

Most interventions start too late and are not specifically targeted to match the needs of the learner so can end up being fairly ineffective. Many teachers and SENCOs have little understanding of the wide spectrum of learning difficulties that can make learning to read and write difficult. You still have teacher trainers, headteachers and teachers who don't agree with phonics teaching and who seem to think that the teaching of phonics precludes having a rich literacy diet/environment - it is possible to have both.

VestaCurry Tue 19-Aug-14 17:37:49

enviousllama - absolutely. We read, hopefully, understand what we read and be able to demonstrate that understanding. Literacy is a complex process. As is numeracy. If at any point in the the learning process it is disrupted, for whatever reason, the path back to where a learner was can be difficult without the right support.

ThisIsBULLSHIT Tue 19-Aug-14 17:37:53

YY agree with vesta re targeted approach. No point targeting chn with supportive families and a good grasp of reading already.

ChazzerChaser Tue 19-Aug-14 17:50:28

How is the sun an appropriate partner? There are numerous testimonies of how women have felt as girls by the sun appearing in their schools. Why would save the children want to work with a paper that is so damaging to children? Seems rather contradictory.

FabulousFudge Tue 19-Aug-14 18:02:38

Sounds fab and exciting! The only possible reservation would be being associated with The Sun newspaper.

nameequality Tue 19-Aug-14 18:10:51

No I couldn't support this because of the 'working with The Sun'. I support the No More Page 3 campaign.

IIRC Mumsnet has signed up as a 'corporate' supporter of NMP3.

Save the Children say on their own website "Our job is to ensure vulnerable children are protected, to the best of our ability, wherever they are."

From the NMP3 campaign

Children can see Page 3 at any time - Lots of people take newspapers into public places and also into their family homes where they would be far less likely to take magazines containing similar images such as porn or lads mags.

When children watch TV we have a watershed so that we know that things shown after 9pm may contain sex, nudity and swearing. When we watch a movie with children there are certificates to help us decide if the content is appropriate. When buying newspapers there is no age at which you can’t buy, whilst porn mags have to be placed on the top shelf. The page 3 pictures are therefore placed on bottom shelves next to other papers and children’s comics etc. Not only this but the Sun actively markets itself as a family newspaper. It advertises on children’s television and includes holiday and toy promotions as well as features and competitions about boy bands etc.

Studies show that seeing these type of pictures is not good for children. We don’t think there is anything wrong with children seeing nudity such as seeing parents or family naked or even people on the beach or in changing rooms for example. Images like page 3 are different. Children know what newspapers are and what they are for, they aren’t expecting a sexual image. These pictures are sexual. The models are posed in a way to make the reader think they want to have sex with them and children can tell the difference. Young girls who see these pictures are more likely to grow up thinking they should get their clothes off for men. They are more likely to accept and take on the image of being a sex object.

Young boys who see these pictures are less likely to treat women and girls with respect. They are more likely to think of women and girls as less than human and as a result to treat women and girls in a derogatory way and not worry about hurting them.

I'm assuming MNHQ are a bit hmm about this as you've specifically mentioned The Sun?

OhBuggerandArse Tue 19-Aug-14 18:21:56

Re. The specific aims and methodologies of the campaign, I'd ask Michael Risen for input.

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