Update – Get Blackpool Reading campaign

Get Bpool Reading logoIn response to the progression of covid-19, changes have had to be made to the Get Blackpool Reading campaign.

The community-driven campaign led by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with Blackpool Council and the Blackpool Opportunity Area officially launched in February. It set out to work with local partners, schools and businesses to promote reading for pleasure among children and families and give them the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.

The National Literacy Trust has now set up a Facebook page to provide support and tips to families who are home-schooling as well as raising awareness of campaign and project activity.

The charity has also established a Family Zone This is a one-stop shop of resources to help families with home-schooling.

New campaign activities

100 Reads

Get Blackpool Reading’s 100 Reads asks children and residents across the town to nominate their top three kids’ books for a list to inspire children to read more widely.

Families can visit the Get Blackpool Reading website while self-isolating, where they’ll find tips on thinking about their favourite stories and the submission form.

The three Blackpool schools that submit the highest number of entries will win books for their school. There will also be a prize draw in which one lucky winner will scoop entry to the circus at Blackpool Tower for a family of four to use once it reopens.

Big Book Giveaway

The Big Book Giveaway asked families to download or collect an activity sheet from locations across Blackpool, complete it and exchange it at any Blackpool Library for a free book to keep.

As libraries are now closed, we are now encouraging families to download the leaflet. Visit the website, download and complete the Big Book Giveaway resource. Send a photo to getblackpoolreading@literacytrust.org.uk and you’ll receive a token to collect your free book when libraries reopen!

Make-your-own Bear Hunt

Get Blackpool Reading has developed a make-your-own Bear Hunt activity, inspired by the popular children’s story We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. Download the checklist, follow the steps and you could win copies of the book and a DVD, thanks to Walker Books. There’s also a family ticket to Blackpool Zoo up for grabs to be redeemed by March 2021. Visit getblackpoolreading.org.uk to find out more.

Thank you

We’d like to thank all our Get Blackpool Reading partners for all their commitment to the campaign so far especially during these unprecedented times. Your support will help us continue to improve literacy levels across the town and encourage families to read for pleasure while they’re at home together.

Secretary of State for Education visits the Blackpool Opportunity Area

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  • Education Secretary visits St George’s School, A Church of England Academy and Blackpool and The Fylde College
  • Secretary of State meets school and college leaders to discuss the key challenges in the area
  • Over £7m is currently being invested in Blackpool as part of the Opportunities Area programme to support vulnerable children and young families and funding for Essential Life Skills and early speech and language.  

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has today (Thursday 5 March) visited Blackpool to learn more about the work that the Opportunity Area programme is doing to level up opportunities for children and young people in the town.

The Secretary of State began by visiting St George’s School Blackpool who are working with the Opportunity Area programme across a wide range of projects that are providing extra support for early and mid-career teachers, embedding the teaching of literacy across the curriculum and to support the most vulnerable pupils, with a range of needs from speech language and communication to emotional and mental wellbeing.

He then followed this by visiting Blackpool and The Fylde College, who are a key partner along with St Georges School in the delivery of the Blackpool Careers Journey – a joined up offer of support for all children and young people in the town to help them prepare for work.

Over £7m is being currently invested in Blackpool as part of the Opportunity Area programme and for Essential Life Skills and early speech and language.  The programme is working in three priority areas of raising attainment and progress in Blackpool schools, providing support for vulnerable young people and families to improve attendance and reduce exclusions from school and improving advice and support for young people when moving between schools/colleges and into work.

Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: “It was fantastic to get back to Blackpool today to see how we are raising the bar for young people living here, by investing in excellent teachers and improving education standards in key skills like literacy.

“Every child, in every part of the country, should have a fair chance – that’s why we are levelling up funding to make sure all schools can deliver a high quality education.

“We have also have recently announced an extra £18 million to extend the Opportunity Area programme, helping to cement the great work already being done to help Blackpool’s young people reach their full potential.”

Chair of the Blackpool Opportunity Area Partnership Board, Graham Cowley, said: “Blackpool welcomes the visit by the SoS to review our Opportunity Area activities.  All our partner organisations are proud to be collaborating to improve life chances for all our young people, supporting them to access the world of work and to thrive within it.

“Continuing Government support for the Opportunity Area programme inspires confidence in partners to continue to drive towards longer-term aspirations for our community.”

Graham Warnock, Headteacher at St George’s, said: “The staff at St George’s love working in the Academy.  Our high expectations and approach to discipline has created a calm, harmonious and purposeful environment where young people thrive socially and fulfil their academic potential.

“We have seen the difference caring discipline makes and I was pleased with the Government’s behaviour hub initiative announced earlier this week. It was fantastic for the Secretary of State to have the opportunity to visit this wonderful Academy and see first hand the transformation this approach is having at St George’s and the positive benefits and outcomes for our pupils”

Bev Robinson OBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Blackpool and The Fylde College, said: “Fundamental to the levelling up agenda, is the investment in technical and professional education and training aligned to the needs of the economy.

“Blackpool and The Fylde College is recognised as a leading provider in this space, working with employer partners to co-create learning opportunities leading to sustainable, vibrant careers. We welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate outstanding technical and professional education in practice to the Secretary of State and for students to share their success stories with him.”

The programme has been operating in 12 Opportunity Areas across the country – Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, North Yorkshire Coast, West Somerset, Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

Areas were chosen because they face some of the most entrenched obstacles to social mobility and were set up to improve outcomes and increase opportunities for all young people in these areas.

Across all the Opportunity Areas around 60,000 young people have also been given the chance to develop life skills like resilience, teamwork, problem-solving, confidence and leadership thanks to a share of the £22 million Essential Life Skills programme.

Pupils explore their next steps at careers fair

006 Jodie (L) and Millie (R) at the careers fair

Hundreds of pupils from schools across Blackpool attended a two-day careers fair held at the Pleasure Beach last week.

Students were able to pick up information from a broad range of industry areas, including the next steps they would need to take after their studies.

Organised by Blackpool Community Guidance, the year 8 and 9 pupils also had access to training providers, and representatives from colleges, universities and professional bodies to discuss their different career options. Exhibitors included Blackpool Pleasure Beach, British Aerospace, Marine Engineering, Sainsbury’s, Lancaster University and Teacher Training.

The annual ‘Our Future, Our Choice’ event aims to ensure that young people understand the link between success in school and their future career.

Sponsored by the Blackpool Opportunity Area, Blackpool Sixth Form, Blackpool and The Fylde College and Education Business Partnership (NW), the guidance event is now in its twelfth year of helping students understand more about their career options and what they need to achieve their goals.

David Brennand, who helped to organise the event, said: “This event is designed to inspire and aspire young people and help them make positive decisions about their futures.

“It is a great way to make the link between the curriculum and the careers for the future and to give so many pupils a chance to talk to inspiring industry experts which will help them prepare for their next steps.

“I would like to thank all the businesses and sponsors for getting involved and hope that this event can continue for many years to come.”

With access to interactive stations across three floors of the Pleasure Beach, the students were able to get hands on experience from many of the different industry sectors.

Jodie, 12, from Highfield Leadership Academy, said: “It is worthwhile being here as it can help you to pick your career. There’s lots of different stands and the people are really helpful. I think that I want to be a detective within the police but I am open to other things.”

Millie, also 12 from Highfield, said: “I am into hairdressing and this is what I’d like to do in the future. I went to the hair and beauty stand and was able to practice on a doll’s head.”

Robert Owen, Director of Marketing, Sales and PR at the Pleasure Beach, said: “We are very proud to have hosted this event for so many years. It’s great that we can use our venue to help local year 8 and 9 students start to think about their career options.”

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, said: “This inspiring event provides a fantastic opportunity for the young people in our community to access high quality careers information, advice and guidance, as they start thinking about their futures.

“There are a huge range of opportunities available to them, and it’s essential that we continue to help them aspire to dream big and then work with them to help them reach their goals.

“Events like these give young people in Blackpool a chance to learn about employers, higher education and apprenticeships, and businesses within the local area and to make informed decisions about their future careers.”

New literacy campaign is on the hunt for the town’s top 100 kids’ books

100 Reads

Get Blackpool Reading from the National Literacy Trust, Blackpool Council and Blackpool Opportunity Area, is collating a list of Blackpool’s favourite children’s stories to encourage reading for pleasure across the town.

Pupils at all 33 primary schools in Blackpool are being asked to nominate their favourite children’s book as part of an initiative from Get Blackpool Reading – a new literacy-focused campaign launching on 25 February.

Blackpool’s 100 Reads is a town-wide activity to motivate more children to enjoy reading and read more widely, by inspiring them to try books that have been recommended by their peers.

Each primary school in Blackpool will receive a pack including teacher top tips to promote the 100 Reads activity in the classroom and a set of postcards where pupils can submit their top three favourite books for the list. The three Blackpool schools that submit the highest number of suggestions will each receive 100 new books each.

Local residents are also invited to share their favourite children’s book through a submission form on the Get Blackpool Reading website, using #GetBlackpoolReading on social media or emailing getblackpoolreading@literacytrust.org.uk by the deadline of Friday 6 March.

Get Blackpool Reading is a new community-driven campaign led by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with Blackpool Council and the Blackpool Opportunity Area. Officially launching at the end of February, the campaign will work with local partners, schools and businesses to promote reading for pleasure among children and families and give them the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.

It comes as more than half (58%) of disadvantaged 11-year-olds in Blackpool left primary school unable to read well. Just 48% of pupils achieved a grade C or above in both English and maths at GCSE in 2018, compared to the national average of 63%.

The printed Blackpool 100 Reads list will be found in libraries across the town later in the spring in the form of a bespoke height chart. A downloadable version will be available at getblackpoolreading.org.uk.

Paul McNally, Get Blackpool Reading’s Campaign Manager, said: “Creating a list of Blackpool’s top 100 Reads will not only inspire hundreds of local children and families to discover new books, but also create a buzz around the new Get Blackpool Reading campaign and the exciting literacy-focused activities to come. We know that when children choose books to read outside the classroom for just 10 minutes every day, their mental wellbeing improves and they achieve more at school.”

Mark Rayner, Blackpool Opportunity Area Delivery Lead, said: “We are thrilled to be working with the National Literacy Trust as part of the Get Blackpool Reading 100 Reads initiative. Being able to read and communicate well are essential ingredients to doing well in school and preparing for the world of work, and creating a fun and inspiring list will take us one step closer to that goal. We’re looking forward to finding out which stories will be included.”

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, said: “We welcome any scheme that brings families together and develops a shared love of reading. Ensuring children read, write and count well early is key to their success at school and in life. That’s why it’s really important that we ask families to get involved in this campaign to help instil a love of books from a young age.

“This campaign will help everybody to get in to reading, which is a really important skill, and develop the literacy skills that children need to succeed.”

To find out more about the Get Blackpool Reading campaign, please visit getblackpoolreading.org.uk.

Students win work experience of a lifetime

Photo of work experience winners

There can be few better entries in a fashion journalist’s CV than working on Elle UK.

Yet that’s exactly what’s in store for three Blackpool and The Fylde College students after they won a competition to shadow the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Farrah Storr, at the magazine’s London headquarters.

Farrah was hosting a series of presentations at the Park Road campus when she revealed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

English students Rebecca Gilder and Amy Steel, and Fashion Design’s Josh Harris, won the chance to learn all about fashion journalism at Elle UK’s Canary Wharf offices after completing writing assignments about modern fashion and culture.

Farrah set the challenge while visiting B&FC as part of nationwide research by the Social Mobility Commission into 21st century challenges facing young people.

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, said: “We’re determined to give the best possible education to every single child, no matter what their background, needs or issues.

“Work experience is a vital part of that as it can play an important role in career development as well as provide students with an opportunity to learn transferable skills, build confidence and use academic learning in the workplace.

“Having the chance to put their existing skills into practice alongside developing and enhancing new ones is invaluable.

“I am sure that Josh, Rebecca and Amy will make the most of the opportunity and see the value and satisfaction that you can get out of work.”

£18m extension to Opportunity Area programme

£18 million announced to extend the Opportunity Area programme to support social mobility in some of the most disadvantaged areas.

Receiving Help In Lessons

Young people in some of the most disadvantaged parts of England are set to benefit from an extra £18 million investment to build on improvements in educational outcomes, careers advice and attracting teachers.

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has today announced the Government’s Opportunity Areas (OA) programme will be extended for an additional year, building on its success so far in areas of the country where children have for too long been left behind.

The programme is also showing impact in a wide range of areas from early years education to employment, following an initial £72 million boost for interventions across literacy, maths, attendance, teacher training and recruitment, post-16 options and careers advice since its launch in 2017.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I grew up in Scarborough, now part of the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area, and having returned recently for a visit I’ve seen for myself the progress being made and the difference it is making to young people living there.

“Ability is evenly spread across the country, but opportunity isn’t. We’re determined to put right the wrongs of places left behind and see the Opportunity Area programme grow – helping local leaders and schools to tackle some of the greatest challenges young people face.

“It’s not just about what happens now in these 12 areas but the impact these projects will have on future generations and paving the way for them to overcome obstacles to success.”

The programme has been operating in 12 Opportunity Areas across the country – Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, North Yorkshire Coast, West Somerset, Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

Areas were chosen because they face some of the most entrenched obstacles to social mobility and were set up to improve outcomes and increase opportunities for all young people in these areas.

Across all the Opportunity Areas around 60,000 young people have also been given the chance to develop life skills like resilience, teamwork, problem-solving, confidence and leadership thanks to a share of the £22 million Essential Life Skills programme.

Today’s funding extends the programme into a fourth year, which will run until August 2021, to help sustain long term improvements and outcomes.

Elle UK editor Farrah Storr offers work experience for college students

B&FC students with FarrahImage credit: Nadine Ellis

Talented students are competing to swap Blackpool’s bright lights for city skyscrapers – and work alongside one of the UK’s biggest names in journalism.

Farrah Storr, editor-in-chief of Elle UK, revealed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while visiting Blackpool and The Fylde College’s University Centre this week. Students now have to write a report for a competition to win the London trip.

Salford-born Farrah was in Blackpool to share her career experiences with a masterclass for students on telling their story.

Her visit was part of a north west tour with the Social Mobility Commission to look at improving opportunities for young people living in some of the most deprived areas of the country.

Blackpool is one of 12 Opportunity Areas identified by the Department for Education to improve education standards and help youngsters achieve their potential. 

Farrah’s inspirational talk provided the students with an opportunity to learn about the world of journalism and what it takes to succeed.

She explained: “Growing up in Salford, I never thought a career in journalism was a possibility.

“The creative industries have always been so heavily weighted in London that coming from the north west felt like an enormous disadvantage.

“While it’s true that I had to move away to become a journalist I don’t believe geography is still the enormous barrier it once was.

“To get a break today you need super sharp ideas as well as the knowledge of where to look for true opportunity.”

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, said: “Farrah’s visit is a great example of how important ambition and aspiration are and what it takes to be successful in the workplace.

“Alongside the Blackpool Opportunity Area, we work very hard to challenge the expectations about the town and raise aspirations of children, young people and families.

“Improving the life chances of the town’s children and young people is fundamental to the future of Blackpool.”