27th February 2017. 

A major new campaign to spearhead improvements in reading for 5-11 year olds in Norfolk was launched on Friday 24 February. 

Led by Beanstalk and Transforming Education in Norfolk (the TEN Group), Get Norfolk Reading will promote a love of reading for all children in the county to tackle the long-standing literacy gap which has seen Norfolk’s children lag behind the rest of the country when it comes to reading.

The latest data from the Department for Education shows that 37% of children in Norfolk failed to reach the expected standard for reading last year, which is higher than the national average of 34%.

Get Norfolk Reading will make a direct impact on literacy for children in the county through the work of its charity partner Beanstalk. 

Beanstalk is a national charity with 43 years’ experience of providing one-to-one support to children in primary schools through trained volunteer reading helpers. Beanstalk reading helpers provide consistent one-to-one support on a weekly basis for a whole school year, transforming their reading ability and confidence.

Ginny Lunn (CEO, Beanstalk):  

  • “Beanstalk is delighted to be a part ofGet Norfolk Reading and to bring our one-to-one support to the county’s children for the first time.  Having that extra time each week to practise, get individual support and have fun with books and games is sometimes all a child needs to become a confident reader. As a reading helper myself, I know how rewarding an experience it is seeing the children smile when I arrive and grow in confidence week by week – and it’s great fun for me too!  I’d encourage anyone who has the time and a passion for reading to come forward as a Beanstalk reading helper and help us get all Norfolk’s children reading.”

Jake Humphrey (TV presenter): 

  • “Reading with children from just a few months old gives them literary skills and confidence, feeds their imagination and brings to life their creativity... and the time us parents spend reading to them will live with them forever.”

Dick Palmer (Chief Executive, Transforming Education in Norfolk):  

  • Get Norfolk Readingis about bringing together all those in our county who are passionate about reading.  We want to inspire a generation of lifelong readers, enriching young lives through the magic of books, and opening up all of the future opportunities that come with better childhood literacy.” 

Last year almost 3,100 Beanstalk-trained reading helpers supported over 11,000 children in almost 1,400 schools in England.  Eighty two per cent of schools Beanstalk work with say their reading helpers helped their school achieve its literacy outcomes, while 96% said they helped the children improve their confidence.

If you would like to make a lasting difference as part of the Get Norfolk Reading campaign, then you can as a Beanstalk trained reading helper. Find out more by visiting www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk or calling 020 7729 4087.

Notes to editors

  1. Beanstalk is a national literacy charity that recruits, trains and supports volunteers to work in primary schools with children who have fallen behind with their reading. Beanstalk's vision is that all children and young people have the essential skills they need to grow up and lead successful lives. To find out how to volunteer, visit beanstalkcharity.org.uk or call 020 7729 4087.
  2. Each Beanstalk reading helper works with three children and sees each child for two 30 minute sessions a week, during term-time, for a whole year. Together, they read, play and talk. With Beanstalk's support the child's approach to learning and enjoying reading is transformed.
  3. TheGet Norfolk Reading campaign has been initiated by the TEN Group and is overseen by a steering group which includes Dick Palmer (TEN Group’s Chief Executive), George Freeman MP, primary school head teachers Clare Fletcher (North Walsham Junior, Infant School and Nursery) and Nicola Kay (Wayland Junior Academy Watton), Andrew Barnes (Senior Partner, Howes Percival), and Alexander Gordon Smith (Author and Patron of Reading at City Academy Norwich).
  4. In the last academic year Beanstalk supported over 11,000 children.
  5. Beanstalk works in areas of deprivation across England in the North, Midlands, Somerset, Greater London and South East England.
  6. Beanstalk was founded in 1973 as Volunteer Reading Help by Susan Belgrave MBE, Beanstalk’s President.

Sources for statistics are available on request.