BITC Christmas literacy campaign sees 15,000 books donated to primary schools

Thirty-seven primary schools in Blackpool, Bradford, Coventry, Lowestoft, Norwich, Rochdale, Sheffield and Wisbech have received a donation of 15,000 children’s books worth £100,000, from a campaign led by Business in the Community (BITC), the Prince’s Responsible Business Network.

With more than one in four children estimated to leave primary school with poor reading abilities, BITC’s literacy campaign is aimed at improving literacy skills in primary-age children.1

This donation comes as part of BITC’s Place programme, which involves supporting communities in need around the UK. BITC leads on a number of school partnerships to support school-age children improve their literacy skills and increase business engagement with secondary-age children on future career prospects.

Given by Miles Kelly Publishing and partially funded by Literacy Capital through BITC’s partnership with Bookmark Reading Charity, the donated books range from fiction to non-fiction and include interactive content for young readers. Bookmark gives children the reading skills and confidence they need for a fair chance in life, through their flexible volunteer-led programme.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Director of Place at Business in the Community, said: “It’s in BITC’s DNA to support transforming communities that are at risk of being forgotten and what better way to do that than to help children improve their literacy skills. Leaving primary school without fundamental reading skills can have a long-term impact on a child’s future prospects, and it is a fact we cannot ignore. By arranging for these books to be distributed, we aim to improve the literacy of students, and give these young pupils a chance for a better future.”

Kitty Higgins, CEO at Bookmark Reading Charity, said: “At Bookmark we want every child to read. More than one in four children in England are unable to read well when they leave primary school and England has one of the lowest literacy rates in the developed world. We want to stop this trend. BITC’s Christmas Literacy campaign will help encourage an excitement for reading amongst children, which we believe is so important.”

Ends

Notes to editor

  1. Department for Education (2019) National curriculum assessments at Key Stage 2 in England, 2019 (provisional), updated 13th December 2019.

Pictures available upon request.

More quotes from the headteachers include:

Michael Silvester, Year 5 Class-teacher and School Governor at Drayton Junior School, commented: “This kind and generous gift has provided a wide range of topic-based books for our pupils. This means a great deal as it helps our pupils to have engaging and inspiring resources will encourage them to discover the pleasure of reading a book. For many of our pupils access to books is limited, so this thoughtful gift will help to change that.”

Jackie Etteridge, Head at Roman Hill Primary School in Lowestoft, said: “We are delighted with so many lovely books being donated to the school. The children will benefit from them in so many ways, supporting their work in school as well as helping with their enthusiasm and enjoyment for reading. Thank you!”

Andrew Arnold, Head of School St Joseph’s Catholic Primary in Keighley, said: “It was a lovely surprise to receive such high quality books for all the children here at St Joseph’s. The children were delighted they could take home a book each to keep.”

Hannah Baker, Primary Literacy Lead at Astrea, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Miles Kelly for this very generous donation to our schools. The books will enable so many of our children to explore a brilliant selection of non-fiction books as they continue to grow their love for reading. Thank you!”

Angela Pagett, Head Teacher at Henley Green Primary School in Coventry, added: “It’s amazing to think that we will be able to send every child home with a book in their hands for Christmas time. We’ve worked really hard with our children on reading for pleasure. They love books and treat their library time and books as precious. For them to have a book of their own to keep will be thrilling for our children. Enjoying reading is what will make the difference for all children and enabling children to own their own books can only benefit our children more.”

Roger Farley, Headteacher at Westminster Primary School, said: “The children at Westminster are thrilled to receive these books. Gifting of books is becoming increasingly rare which is such a shame. Who can forget the smell of a new book? There is a special thrill about being the first person to open and read a book. The crack of the spine as the cover unfolds and the crispness of each, perfect page. That’s before you get lost in the wonderful worlds that are created within the covers. Many of our children will not have experienced this excitement and we are very grateful that we can provide every child at Westminster with a book to read and enjoy over the Christmas period. Thank you to everyone who donated to make this possible. Merry Christmas!”

For further information, please contact Aoife Butler Nolan, Head of Media, Public Affairs and Policy on 07702 903 216.

About Business in the Community
Business in the community is the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. We were created nearly 40 years ago, with HRH The Prince of Wales as our Royal Founding Patron, to champion responsible business. We inspire, engage and challenge members and we mobilise that collective strength as a force for good in society to: 

  • Develop a skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow; 
  • Build thriving communities where people want to live and work; 
  • Innovate to sustain and repair our planet. 

About Bookmark
BITC has been working on this donation project in partnership with Bookmark Reading Charity, a literacy charity dedicated to improving literacy in the UK. Bookmark run a six-week reading programme involving two 30-minute sessions each week with a child who needs extra support with their reading. This can be either face-to-face in a local primary school, or virtually through their secure online platform.