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