Newham Mayor joins author to celebrate reading project

Westfield Stratford City has joined the Newham Mayor’s Reading Guarantee to help reach local primary schools in the borough and support the country’s biggest reading initiative.

Over the past four months, volunteers from Westfield Stratford City and John Lewis have headed into local primary schools to read with children to develop their confidence, ability and increase their literary skills.

Foyles book store donated over 100 books to participating schools and organised a private reading by famous children’s author Liz Pichon to demonstrate their commitment to the project. The Mayor of Newham Robin Wales also attended to celebrate the young people’s achievements and the dedication of the volunteers.

Westfield Stratford City is the first Newham based company to respond to the Mayor’s request for businesses to help with the development of children’s reading skills, and offer opportunities of one-to-one support for those who may have fallen behind at school.

The Westfield volunteers used Ruth Miskin’s Read Write Inc. phonics programme to help young students can connect the sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters. From this, they have been taught to blend the sounds of letters together to produce approximate pronunciations of unknown words. Early results show that this is having a significant impact. In March, the proportion of children in the first year judged to be good readers for their age (using National Curriculum levels) has moved from up to 49 per cent, compared to 34 per cent at the same point last year.

Rob Staniford, General Manager, Westfield Stratford City has said: “The Mayor’s Reading Guarantee is an excellent opportunity for the Westfield Stratford City team to support the local community. It is an honour to be asked by the Mayor to assist developing the reading and literacy skills of young people in the heart of Newham.”