Blackbird Leys school celebrates Oxford University grant

A primary school working to inspire a love of reading in its pupils and local residents of all ages, has been announced as the latest recipient of the University of Oxford’s community grant scheme.

Windale Primary School of Blackbird Leys, Oxford, will receive £2,400 towards their innovative approach to nurturing a lifelong love of reading. The school, which is part of the United Learning Trust, will use the funds to expand and develop its library, and hopes to further encourage the children to pick-up a book by introducing a weekly competition that rewards them for reading, both as part of the school curriculum and for pleasure.

The initiative will run in collaboration with Oxford-based TOPSTA, a publisher which promotes youth interest in reading through an online book review website. TOPTSTA has provided every pupil with a free reading log and the chance to have their book reviews published online, giving them an international audience for their work. The children will earn new books for the library by writing books reviews that are published on the TOPPSTA website. The publisher has also arranged links with independent bookshop Mostly Books, who have offered a discount on any books purchased.

While the project’s main goal is to support children to read in the community, it also aims to improve the reading ability of parents and other adults in the area, through access to a ‘Grown-Ups’ section of the library.

Currently stocked with donations from the school’s teachers, the University’s grant will help to replenish bookshelves with a range of books designed to engage adults working to develop their reading skills. To support this work and make these books and the space itself available to budding bookworms of all ages, the library will be open for 45 minutes beyond school hours.

Matt Cuttle, Deputy Head Teacher at Windale Primary School, said: ‘One of the great joys of childhood is exploring your imagination, and research shows that reading is the best way to encourage this creativity in young people.

‘Our aim is to make sure every child reaches their full potential, and is ‘the best they can be’. Improving reading and improving links to Oxford University can only engage Windale pupils and parents to improve their life-chances by engaging with reading.’

Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at Oxford University, said: ‘The University is thrilled to be a part of Windale Primary School’s efforts to encourage more children - and people in general, to read. The Community Grants Scheme allows us to support innovative projects that provide life changing opportunities to local residents, and Windale’s determination to inspire a passion for books in new readers of all ages is a perfect example of this work in action.’

About the University of Oxford Community Grants SchemeThe community grants scheme was established in 2013 to enable the University of Oxford to support a wide variety of activities that take place across the city and have a positive impact on the lives of local people. The Scheme is open to groups or organisations external to the University, that wholly, or largely, draw their membership from the Oxford City area. The Grants Committee is currently accepting applications for the next round of funding, with the closing date scheduled for Thursday 21 February 2019.

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