Dragons' Den event bids to boost reading age

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The bid to improve reading amongst thousands of Pendle schoolchildren got a major boost for The Pendle Reading Challenge last week.

Over 30 Pendle businesses and organisations supported a Dragons’ Den style sponsorship event on Friday at the ACE Centre in Nelson.

Around 80 children took part in the event

Around 80 children took part in the event

Around 80 children took part in the event, representing 15 primary and secondary schools in Pendle, and helped to raise over £6,000 in pledges.

And characters emerged out of books including Roald Dahl’s The Twits and Alice in Wonderland, thanks to costumes from Burnley College and the Pendle Hippodrome Theatre, in Colne.

The young people’s efforts were also supported by author Curtis Jobling, designer of Bob the Builder, creator of Frankenstein’s Cat and author of a new series of darkly comic fantasy novels for young adults – Wereworld.

Author John Eames, who wrote The Magic Makers and Beastly Bites also took part in the day to get The Pendle Reading Challenge off to a fantastic start.

“We are striving to make Pendle The Reading Borough,” said organiser Cathy Bridges, who is Lead Practitioner for Literacy at Park High School, Colne.

Children pitched to local businesses and organisations to raise pledges for books and activities to boost reading including:

• Author visits to school which cost £300 - £500;

• A chromebook costing around £150 per pupil and over £4,500 for a class of 30;

• £25 which provides one child with 12 books a year;

• £20 to send a student to a Reading Ambassadors’ Conference.

“The Pendle Reading Challenge is a new initiative designed to improve student attainment and enhance children’s life chances,” Cathy explained.

“It’s vitally important because Pendle is an area where the average reading age is well below the national average.”

Local businesses which agreed to support the event, playing the part of the Dragons, included Wyndham Vacation Rentals (Cottages.com) from Earby, Lloyd BMW and Textstyles from Colne, Booths of Barrowford and Silentnight and Rolls-Royce from Barnoldswick.

Organisations which helped to make the Dragons’ Day event happen included 5 Little Boys Photography, Oddie’s Bakery from Nelson and Billy Bob’s Ice Cream Parlour from Skipton.

Anyone who wasn’t able to attend the event but who’d like to be involved in the three year initiative can contact Cathy Bridges at Park High School on Tel: 01282 865200 or email her at: cbridges@park-high.co.uk
Coun. Dorothy Lord, who is Pendle’s Every Child Matters champion said: “Our aim is to help all Pendle children read in line with their chronological age or above and this will impact positively on their education across all subject areas.”

The Pendle Reading Challenge has endorsement from authors including bestselling crime writer Sophie Hannah who said: “The Pendle Reading Challenge is an inspired and important initiative.”

And Anne Kenworthy, Secondary English Consultant for Lancashire said: “Reading supports school success and opens minds and opportunities for a bright future.”

The new Reading Challenge is part of The Pendle Challenge which was launched this year and includes over 80 organisations, including local schools, Nelson and Colne College and Pendle Council.

Paul Britton, Nelson and Colne College’s Vice Principal for Curriculum who chairs The Pendle Challenge said: “It is proving to be a powerful driving force to improve the future of thousands of Pendle’s children and young people.”