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National Literacy Trust

The National Literacy Trust (NLT) works to support children, young people, and their families from disadvantaged backgrounds, with literacy issues. The Open University’s (OU’s) Knowledge Transfer Voucher (KTV) scheme enabled NLT to work with OU academics to examine outcomes related to piloting their initiative in different scenarios. The outputs of this project also enabled NLT to apply for a UEFA Foundation grant which addresses issues associated with inequality, social deprivation, conflict resolution, migrant assimilation into host countries and disparities in educational attainment.

With the OU’s help, we extended our school-based reading intervention into the community. Co-creation of projects with communities will help inform our work going forward. The KTV also allowed us to understand how we can adjust our reading intervention, Skills Academy, to engage English as an additional languge, asylum seeker and refugee students, and support their English skills and community cohesion. We are now in a strong position to explore development opportunities.

Imran Hafeez and Jim Sells
National Literacy Trust

National Literacy Trust’s Needs

NLT wanted to work with Open University (OU) academics to examine two specific outcomes related to piloting the initiative in different settings and with different students, something they have not been able to do before. Firstly, to evaluate and document the changes made to the programme to understand the nature of the improvements of these students’ literacy skills and facilitator confidence. Secondly, to explore the potential secondary impacts of students’ enhanced skills in supporting community cohesion at an individual level, focusing on participatory approaches and participants’ reflections.

The Solution

The project identified new non-EU child migrants (11-13 years) as a group who could benefit from an existing NLT reading intervention called Skills Academy. The initiative targets students with low literacy levels and supports the development of their comprehension skills and reading stamina. Skills Academy, historically a school-based reading intervention, was repurposed to support students with English as an additional language. The project was also piloted, for the first time, in a community setting, supporting students in an out-of-school club. The football themed literacy project reached 30 students and feedback from the three project leads noted benefits for all students. Specific reference was made to their increased confidence in speaking aloud in English, confidence in vocabulary use, and positive cross-peer interactions in the football sessions. The project achieved its objective of documenting key learnings from testing the initiative in different settings with targeted student groups.

Our partnership with the National Literacy Trust has enabled us to better understand the challenges faced by children for whom English is an additional language. Being in this better position means we can now explore strategies to support these children and research their effectiveness.

Alex Twitchen
Faculty of Wellbeing Education and Language Studies

Results and Benefits

The project met its primary aim by improving the reading skills of young people; increasing their motivation to read and improving reading behaviours. In addition, the project design, and the contributions made by Associate Professor Naomi Flynn (University of Reading), led to increased confidence, and understanding of the facilitators in how to meet the literacy needs of this specific group of students. Important lessons have also been learnt as to which books the participants’ responded to best and why. The outcomes and lessons learnt are being developed at a larger scale for an OU/NLT joint bid to the annual UEFA Foundation grant.