Raising rates of literacy in South Tyneside

Coun Joan Atkinson (right) and Jane Kysow, pictured with the REAL Parent Volunteers.
Coun Joan Atkinson (right) and Jane Kysow, pictured with the REAL Parent Volunteers.

A project aimed at raising the literacy standards of South Tyneside children is paying dividends.

The REAL (Raising Early Attainment in Literacy) project, which has been rolled out across the borough by South Tyneside Council, involves parents working with school staff to help them support their children’s literacy development.

I am delighted that parents and carers have recognised the benefits of taking part in the scheme

Coun Joan Atkinson

The research-based scheme aims to develop early literacy through partnerships with parents.

Specially trained practitioners reach out to families, building confidence and knowledge to support the early learning environment at home, which has proven to have a powerful impact on children’s learning.

At Marine Park Primary School, which was recently graded as outstanding by Ofsted, the initiative has proved so successful that it has been rolled out into Reception and Years 1 and 2.

And, the school has chosen to run an additional scheme, which has seen parents trained to become REAL Parent Volunteers.

A total of 13 parents, who took part in the training programme, were presented with their certificates from the Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, Councillor Joan Atkinson.

Coun Atkinson said: “I am delighted that parents and carers have recognised the benefits of taking part in the scheme. That so many have chosen to want to pass on their knowledge to others is a resounding endorsement of the value of this project.”

The REAL project encourages parents to engage with their children about letters and words from a very early age, things such as writing letters in the sand or spotting letters in logos.

Jane Kysow, literacy and REAL co-ordinator at Marine Park Primary, said: “REAL is by far the most successful scheme I have come across in encouraging parents to become more involved in their children’s learning.

“It reinforces the role of parents as the prime educators in their children’s lives and uses simple techniques to instil confidence in parents to interact with their children and support their learning.

“Since running the scheme, the school has been delighted to welcome the very many mums and dads who’ve shown such real hands-on interest in their children’s education both during home visits and at the workshops in school. Nothing convinces a child more about how important something is than knowing their dad and mum value it.”