Mar 22, 2021

As we turn the page on another World Book Day, we thought it would be fitting to catch up with one of our partners – Education Futures Trust – on the work it has been doing with children in Hastings to boost literacy.

Education Futures Trust was established in 2012, when headteachers across the town created a charitable organisation to provide additional support for children and families. Founder members realised that schools would benefit from a charity that focused on supporting children within their community, especially the most vulnerable. Carole Dixon, the Chief Executive indicated, “We recognise that schools need to focus on education, and our role means that we can provide support to meet the challenges faced by children and families”.

In 2020, the Hastings Opportunity Area commissioned Education Futures Trust to lead a consortium of organisations, including 18 hours, FSN and Culture Shift, to deliver the ‘Get Hastings Reading’ campaign; with a focus on improving literacy standards within the town.

In the first year, over 10,000 books were given out to disadvantaged children in Hastings. Carole, reflected on this unique partnership: “We believe that education, in its broadest sense, provides the route to success and achievement for all. Learning allows children to aspire to improve their life-chances and we all have a responsibility to provide the best for local children. The Hastings Opportunity Area has the funding to support this ambition and Education Futures Trust believes that partners have the ability to ensure that the resource meets these aims”.

The ‘Get Hastings Reading’ campaign, has been inspiring children to read for pleasure, by running a series of exciting initiatives. These include:

  • Tales from the Tipi; exciting storytelling sessions in primary schools;
  • Word Cafes; motivating opportunities for secondary pupils to meet professionals and explore the impact of words;  
  • family holiday literacy events;
  • regular competitions and links to authors and storytellers;
  • additional free books available to be delivered to children’s homes or schools.

“A particular initiative that is working well is our book drop off points. If anyone has good quality, children’s books, they can drop these into a box outside our office and we’ll ensure these reach the most disadvantaged children who don’t have access to reading books” said Carole.

Looking to the year ahead, that will continue to be dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, Carole reflected on the biggest challenge for the Education Futures Trust in 2021: “Meeting the needs of children and families in a challenging funding environment, is going to be tough. We must continue to listen to those we work with and to ensure that we respond to their need.’

Finally, we asked Carole to reflect on which one piece of advice she would give to her younger self: “I think it would be to stay focused on my aims and stay connected with those that I serve.”. If you would like to stay in touch with the work that the Education Futures Trust are delivering in Hastings, just head to: EFT (@EFT_Hastings) / Twitter Education Futures Trust | Facebook

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