Education Secretary visit to Arsenal football club

Joint literacy partnership announced to improve educational achievements for children in north London.

Education Secretary Justine Greening today (30 January 2017) visited Arsenal football club to mark the launch of a joint reading initiative between Arsenal in the Community and the University College London’s Institute of Education (IOE).

The partnership aims to raise educational achievement with access to reading programmes for more children in north London through Arsenal’s Double Club initiative and the IOE’s Reading Recovery literacy intervention.

Ms Greening was given a tour of the Emirates Stadium before listening to a group of 5- to 7-year-old children read.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

"It is brilliant to see literacy and sporting activities working together today with the Reading Recovery Read Aloud initiative. I loved reading as a child, and it is really important that every child can read well. That’s why the curriculum now has more focus on reading and writing, while our phonics work is helping 147,000 more children to become great readers.

"Playing sport is about more than just ensuring young people are healthy and happy. Sport is also great for helping children develop team-working skills, communication skills and the ability to problem-solve, which in turn make a big difference to young people being able to reach their goals."

Arsenal’s Double Club is an award winning education programme for children in the local community. It uses football as the hook to make learning fun and engaging.

Jack McNicholl, Arsenal’s Double Club Manager, said:

"This partnership will help us reach more children in the area, and to continue to support them with their literacy development in an engaging way. We work with over 30 local schools on a weekly basis and this is fantastic opportunity to team up with UCL and the IOE to help even more children."

Read Aloud, now in its third year, celebrates the success of thousands of children who have been helped to overcome literacy difficulties through the IOE’s Reading Recovery programme. Throughout February, schools across the UK and Ireland will give children the opportunity to read books that are special to them.

Reading Recovery supports 5- and 6-year-olds who are facing challenges in learning to read and write, and gives them a short, intensive catch-up with specially trained teachers. As a result, 8 out of 10 children catch up with their classmates within 6 months.

Professor Becky Frances, Director of the UCL Institute of Education, said:

"Our International Literacy Centre (ILC) is at the forefront of improving outcomes in literacy education and has had considerable success with providing professional learning for teachers who work with children struggling with literacy. I am so pleased that the Secretary of State has shown her support of Read Aloud by attending our celebration and was able to witness first-hand how Reading Recovery has benefitted some of these children."

Both programmes aim to support pupils who are currently below the national average in reading and writing.