By Ginny Lunn, Beanstalk CEO

I've always identified with the Robert Frost poem that has these lines   'Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less travelled by - and that has made all the difference' …

My New Year began amongst smugglers and adventurers, walking the South West Coast Path from Lyme Regis to Lulworth Cove. I felt as though I was in that classic children’s book ‘Moonfleet’!


As I walked each day by the sea and sunshine – it seems I was in the only part of the country that escaped the rain – I felt lucky and hopeful for 2016. 

The Beanstalk year has started with the introduction of a number of new and exciting things:

  • Our new Reading Records, designed to measure each child’s reading progress, have been delivered to our trained reading helpers – all part of our ambitious plan to help tell the story of how children read and grow with our support.
  • Our new schools’ brochure, which provides our partners schools with more information about how we help their pupils discover the magic of reading. This proved extremely helpful when I met with the Primary Director at Ark Academies this month – the start of many conversations with Academy chains.
  • Our new film ‘Ellie’s story, which shows how one of our supported children ‘Ellie’ has grown in confidence thanks to support from her Beanstalk trained reading helper.  

I’ve also kicked off my 2016 ‘Words on Wednesday’ tour, where I go out to meet our trained reading helpers and hear their views.  So far I’ve been to Bolton, North London and Leeds to share the results of our annual reading helper and schools survey and I’ll be visiting Birmingham and Shropshire soon.

There is a growing urgency to raise awareness of the number of children who are unable to read well, thus limiting their life chances - over 1.1 million children leaving primary school in England each year alone. Read On. Get On. is highlighting the issue and Beanstalk is taking a lead role in making sure we can work together with partners to address this in key places across England. However, this is not just an issue for England. Beanstalk’s Director of Marketing and Communications Steve Hawe and I recently attended the ‘European Literacy Policy Network’ (ELINET) conference in Amsterdam to discuss how best to raise the issue of literacy on a Europe-wide level and share the good practices from each country.

Next week I shall be in Washington DC, collecting the 2015 International Prize at the Library of Congress Literacy Awards. I shall be the one collecting the Prize but it is thanks to the dedication of all our staff and volunteers that we have received it. I’ll be sharing a video of my speech from the awards, where I will be talking about the impact of our trained reading helpers and how we can mobilise communities to make a difference.

Until next time,