Get Witham Reading 2014

‘Get Witham Reading’ a huge success for third straight year

Local MP Priti Patel hosted the third Get Witham Reading event – her popular reading initiative – that saw over 100 local students participate in fun and educational reading activities. In a recent letter to Priti, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, has once again commended her for continuing her ongoing campaign to help improve literacy levels in her constituency. 
This Get Witham Reading event took place at Tiptree Heath Primary School on Monday 24th March 2014 where students from numerous schools across the Witham constituency participated in reading events with parents, teachers, members of the local community and British children’s book authors Julia Jones and Julie Irwin. Ms Jones and Ms Irwin hosted workshops for the students and participated in storytelling sessions, including their own stories of their lives as British authors. Priti has praised Miss Tracey Oram – Headteacher at Tiptree Heath Primary School – and all the organisers, teaching staff and hosts for such a successful event that benefits all participating students. 
Following her attendance at the event, Priti said, “I am delighted that so many pupils participated in the first of this year’s Get Witham Reading events. This local initiative was designed to bring the community together and to help improve literacy skills amongst young people while inspiring a love of reading. This event was such a great success, and the leadership at Tiptree Heath Primary School and the participation of Julia Jones and Julie Irwin should inspire us all to read more for fun.”
Miss Tracey Oram, Headteacher at Tiptree Heath Primary School, said, “All the children had a fantastic time at out ‘Get Tiptree and Witham Reading Event’ at Tiptree Heath Primary School. Children, staff and headteachers from other local schools joined in the fun reading activities together with our parents and governors. 
“The aim of the event was to promote a love of reading within the school through parental involvement and sharing good reading practice with other schools. Children and staff wore monster and dragon costumes linked to the event theme and had the opportunity to meet authors Julie Jones and Julia Irwin. Everyone had a roaring time!
“I would like to thank the headteachers, Priti Patel and Tim Coulson, Director of Education and Learning for Essex Schools for supporting the collaborative event.” 
On the same day, Priti spoke in the House of Commons to highlight the success of this event to the Secretary of State for Education, where she asked him, “This morning I attended the launch of ‘Get Tiptree Reading’ at Tiptree Heath Primary School in my constituency. This local reading initiative is led by some outstanding head teachers in the constituency, and is intended to inspire a love of reading among schoolchildren. Will the Secretary of State commend the leadership of that school and other local schools which are going the extra mile to support reading and literacy among the young?”
In response, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP said, “Absolutely. I had the opportunity to visit Essex twice last week; sadly, I did not manage to make it to my hon. Friend’s constituency, but I hope to do so before too long. The leadership being shown by primary head teachers, and teachers across the country, in helping us to eliminate illiteracy is inspiring. The introduction of the phonics check, which was the idea of my hon. Friend the Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr Gibb), has really raised the level of ambition, and the new primary curriculum which will be introduced in September will help to reinforce that.”

25th April 2014: Priti Patel MP celebrates another successful Get Witham Reading event with hundreds of local schoolchildren

Local MP Priti Patel opened this year's second Get Witham Reading event – her popular annual reading initiative – at Templars Primary & Nursery School in Witham with over 350 schoolchildren and their parents and teachers. British award-winning children’s author Kes Grey and members of the local Witham Library also participated by leading reading workshops and activities.
This Get Witham Reading event, which took place on Friday 25th April 2014, was the second this year so far. The first event was at Tiptree Heath Primary School in March 2014. The range of reading activities seemed endless, from storytelling to recipe-reading and cooking to learning about the legacy of Shakespeare. Priti has praised Mrs Louise Heel – Templar School’s Literacy Leader and lead organiser – and all teaching staff and participants for hosting such an incredibly successful event that had all students thoroughly engaged in their reading activities. 
Following the event, Priti said, “The creativity displayed at this Get Witham Reading event was truly amazing, and Mrs Louise Heel and all the teaching staff at Templars School hosted such an incredible event that had children totally engaged in a huge range of reading activities. It was very clear that the pupils enjoyed the day, particularly the storytelling sessions and workshops hosted by award-winning children’s author Kes Grey and members of the local Witham library. This marks the second successful Get Witham Reading event this year, and I commend Mrs Heel and the organisers for their leadership in promoting all the joys and benefits of leisurely reading amongst local young people.”
Mrs Louise Heel, Literacy Leader and lead organiser, said, “The staff and children had an excellent day working on a variety of reading tasks and activities.  Members of the school dressed in fantastic costumes, which really brought the school alive.  We enjoyed sharing our day with MP Priti Patel and Mayor Corrine Thompson who praised the children for all their hard work.  A huge thank you to the pupils, parents, governors and staff for all their hard work.  The day would not have been as successful if it was not for our guests that worked with and inspired the children with their activities and enthusiasm for reading.”
20th June 2014: Get Witham Reading a high-flying success at Powers Hall Academy
Witham MP Priti Patel celebrated the third Get Witham Reading event at Powers Hall Academy on 20th June 2014 that saw the school converted into a mini airport for the theme ‘Let Your Reading Fly’. Stansted Airport contributed greatly to this event to bring the airport experience to the students and to show how the skill of reading is essential at airports and in all aspects of aviation.

In his recent letter to Priti about this particular event, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, wrote, “Books can open up a whole world of adventure and experience, where your imagination can take you to exciting new places and allow you to meet interesting and inspiring characters. As you transform your school into an airport, I hope the books that you choose will transport you to many thought providing locations. I hope the event is a great success and please accept my best wishes.”

Following the event, Priti said, “The Get Witham Reading events hosted at Powers Hall Academy get better every year. ‘Let Your Reading Fly’ was a brilliant theme to stimulate the students’ imaginations, and I hope they are now inspired to read and learn more about the wonders of aviation and air travel. By hosting the third Get Witham Reading event, Headteacher Jane Bass and the teaching staff at Powers Hall Academy have shown tremendous community leadership once again, and the participation of Stansted Airport and all the parents and guests was instrumental in making this event so special. I wish to thank all the hosts, participating students and everyone involved for another successful Get Witham Reading event, and I look forward to working with more schools across my constituency to continue encouraging more leisurely reading in ways that are enjoyable and effective.”   

This Get Witham Reading event took place at Powers Hall Academy – the school where this reading initiative was first launched two years ago. The main hall was turned into an airport lounge, an aeroplane was built on the playground, and each classroom represented a different country. Stansted Airport contributed reading material for the event that helped to inspire the joys of reading and the wonders of air travel amongst participating school children. It was attended by the Witham Town Mayor Janet Money, several Witham Town Councillors, officials from the Department for Education and many community leaders.

| David Cameron Letter



Get Witham Reading was launched in 2012 in response to national statistics that showed that as many as one in six school leavers have a reading standard below that of an average eleven year old. Figures also revealed that literacy levels in the Witham area fell below the national average. Three years on, there has been a marked improvement in literacy in the majority of schools in the Witham constituency.
For example, according to the latest Ofsted data, there has been remarkable improvement in literacy levels since last year:
  • In 2013, 92% of pupils attained Level 4 or above in the key stage 2 reading test. This is an increase of 23 percentage points since 2012.
  • In 2013, 93% of pupils attained Level 2 or above in the key stage 1 reading assessment. This is an increase of five percentage points since 2012; and


The Prime Minister endorses Priti Patel MP’s literacy initiative – Get Witham Reading 

Get Witham Reading – the literacy initiative launched across Witham’s schools launched in 2012 by local MP Priti Patel – is set to celebrate the third year of reading achievements by students and young people in the Witham constituency. The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, has commended Priti for campaigning across her constituency to improve literacy levels in Witham schools and to encourage leisurely reading amongst school children and young people in her constituency.

In a letter to Priti, the Prime Minister wrote, “I am delighted that you are, once again, organising this annual reading event designed to promote reading for pleasure, while also helping to improve standards in literacy in children and young people. Reading feeds the imagination of pupils and can help them to develop culturally, emotionally, and socially.” Although the Prime Minister is unfortunately unable to attend this event, he continued, “I do wish you every success as you continue to celebrate the reading achievements of schoolchildren in Witham.”

The celebration event will take place on Monday 24th March 2014 at Tiptree Heath Primary School – the third Get Witham Reading event and the first one outside of Witham Town. Tiptree Heath is a strong performing school that has seen an increase in the percentage of pupils reaching the expected reading level when they move on to secondary school. In Tiptree Heath’s most recent Ofsted report, it is noted that, “Reading is taught well and so results in the Year 1 letters and sound check were above average and pupils in Year 6 read complicated books successfully.”

This event will bring together over a hundred schoolchildren and their parents and teachers to participate in reading activities, and it will be attended by children’s book authors Julia Jones and Julie Irwin – who will host reading workshops for the students – as well as representatives from the Tiptree Library and officials from the Essex County Council with responsibility for education.

Priti said, “I am excited to launch the next phase of Get Witham Reading and to join pupils from right across the Witham constituency in enjoyable reading activities. Leisurely reading is extremely important for learning and early development as it helps foster greater imaginations while improving core academic skills. I commend the leadership of the organisers and teaching staff at Tiptree Heath Public School for educating young people about the benefits of reading.”

William Chamley, the lead organiser at Tiptree Heath Primary School said, “The children and staff at Tiptree Heath Primary School are really excited about hosting the ‘Get Tiptree and Witham’ reading event. It will provide a fantastic opportunity to celebrate reading with our parents and other local schools. This event aims to develop a reading culture and encourage a love of books, which will raise the achievement in reading within school.”
Letter from Prime Minister


Get Witham Reading enjoys “Resounding success” at Powers Hall Junior School

The Get Witham Reading initiative, launched last year by Priti Patel MP, the local Member of Parliament for Witham, has celebrated improved literacy levels a year on. Around 300 people gathered at Powers Hall Junior School for the event on Friday 26th April, to continue to promote innovative new ways for children to further their reading progress.

Every school in Witham joined in for the activities at Powers Hall Junior School, which included a number of interactive projects in the main hall and the classrooms. In addition to Priti Patel MP and Tim Coulson from Essex County Council, guests included the Mayor of Witham, Michael Lager, and a number of governors, local councillors, community organisations, and parents in their hundreds. The Rotary club, Scholatic and Pearsons were among organisations represented. Activities including group stories, poetry reading, and following recipes and sports reports motivated children to keep up the good work from last year. Jane Bass, the headmistress of Powers Hall Junior School, has described the event as “wholly worthwhile”. She said, “There has been a remarkable shift in the children’s attitudes to reading. They are able to talk to their parents and teachers comfortably about their reading, and what they enjoy in a book – a complete transformation. The response to Get Witham Reading a year on has been overwhelming, and out hall was absolutely full. I’d like to thank Priti Patel MP and Tim Coulson for their inspiring speeches and help in getting this vital project off the ground. I’m looking forward to next year’s event already!”

Priti Patel MP said: “The event on Friday was a resounding success. I was delighted by the way in which this vital event demonstrated local children’s enthusiasm for reading. This crucial initiative aims to show that reading is not only a gateway to academic achievement and success, but that it can be very enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed the event at Powers Hall Junior School today and it was clear that the children and their teachers enjoyed it too.”

Since its inception, the project has been endorsed by the Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP. Although the Prime Minster was unable to attend last Friday’s event, he sent a letter reiterating his support and remarking on the improvement in Witham’s reading levels. He wrote: “I would like to congratulate you on the success of your Get Witham Reading initiative. I am pleased that through this programme, children will have the chance to participate in exciting and inspiring reading activities. I am sure that the activities this year will inspire children to develop a love of reading, as well as helping to improve their literacy skills, and I would like to give my support to the schools taking part.”

If you would like any further information, please contact Priti’s Parliamentary Researcher, Bethany Russell, on 0207 219 3528.

| Click here to read letter from David Cameron







Priti Patel MP, the Member of Parliament for Witham, has launched Get Witham Reading which seeks to improve literacy and achievement amongst local schoolchildren. The project has been endorsed by the Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP, and the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb MP.

The launch event took place at Powers Hall Junior School, with a number of local schools attending and participating, as well as children, parents and members of the local community. Activities ranged from reading stories and poetry to following recipes and sports reports.

In the United Kingdom, one in six pupils leave school without gaining the literacy skills expected of an eleven year old. Recent figures have shown literacy results for children in the Witham constituency to be below the national average, both at Key Stage 2 and GCSE. Last available figures show that in 2010, 74% of children attending Witham schools reached or exceeded the expected level in Key Stage 2 English tests (compared to a national average of 80%), ranking Witham 398th out of the 442 areas for which data is available.

Priti said: “Get Witham Reading aims to show that reading is not only a gateway to achievement and success, but that it can be very enjoyable, too. The launch at Powers Hall Junior School today was fun and vibrant and I feel the children really enjoyed reading. I will shortly be sending a reading pack to schools in my constituency and hope that they will host reading days of their own. A number of local primary schools have already started to plan their Reading Days after the success of Friday’s launch”.

The Head Teacher of Powers Hall Junior School, Jane Bass, said: “Our Reading Day at Powers Hall Junior School was all about the enjoyment of reading and the great variety of forms this takes to engender a very positive attitude towards reading across the whole school community and beyond. We were so delighted that Priti launched her Get Witham Reading initiative here”.

The Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP, said: “Get Witham Reading sounds like an inspiring way to encourage young children to develop a love of reading. As you will be aware, I am deeply committed to raising standards of literacy in schools, so that every child has the basic literacy skills they need to succeed throughout their education and later in life”.

If you would like any further information, please contact Priti’s Parliamentary Researcher, Paul Church, on 02072193528.

































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