Thursday, 23 December 2010

Stop Michael Gove and the Tory booksnatchers - save our free books schemes

BBC News reports:

'The charity Booktrust is to lose all its government funding for schemes that promote reading by providing free books to children in England.

The charity said it was "immensely surprised and disappointed" to hear it would lose £13m of annual Department for Education funding from April 2011.

The money was used for programmes which provide book packs to babies and primary school children in England.'

This means three major schemes - each aimed at a different age group - being scrapped completely. Bookstart provides families with a pack of reading materials for infants, to encourage a reading culture from an early age. Booktime follows this up with a further pack when children start school, focused on promoting reading aloud with children.

As a secondary English teacher the scheme I'm familiar with is Booked Up, which enables every Year 7 pupil (11 year olds) to choose a free book. It's just a couple of weeks since I handed out the free books to my current Year 7 pupils. They are very popular and valued, even by the more reluctant readers.

The schemes are astonishingly good value, as education secretary Michael Gove is well aware. Government funding is more than matched by publishers' contributions, so that each £1 in public funding is equal to £4 of value. All the schemes are universal.

At the moment it's unclear what kind of campaign will develop to protect Booktrust funding, except this Twitter campaign. I'll update this post if I learn of anything further, but my view is that teaching unions should be protesting at this alongside parents and everyone else appalled by the decision. I also hope people will oppose the scrapping of funding for all three schemes, rather than just focusing on Bookstart.


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