Essex Education Task Force

Essex Year of Reading 2022


Articles and blogs

Essex Year of Reading - Where will your book take you?

Roseacres Primary, Lyons Hall Primary, Janet Duke Primary and Shenfield High School

Part 1: I love reading because it makes me happy YouTube

Part 2: I love reading because it opens a gateway to wonder YouTube

Part 3: I love reading because it makes me happy and I can learn words that I don't really know YouTube

Essex Year of Reading Launch Event at Hylands House YouTube


Dermot O'Leary encourages youngsters to get into reading

Broadcaster Dermot O'Leary praised home town Colchester as he supports Covid catch-up reading scheme itv NEWS

Dermot O'Leary visits Essex school to kick off reading campaign East Anglian Daily Times

Sonia Watson BBC Sounds

Homegrown hero Dermot O'Leary returns for Colchester school visit: Harwich and Manningtree Standard, Daily Gazette - Essex County Standard & Basildon Canvey Southend Echo

TV presenter and children's author Dermot O'Leary visits St Thomas More's in Colchester to help encourage youngsters to get into reading. BBC Essex - twitter.

Dermot O'Leary supporting the Essex Year Of Reading - YouTube


Gavin Jones video blog 11 Mar 2022


Roy Blatchford, January 2022 - Reading is the golden key to a lifetime's opportunities

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is an English screenwriter, novelist and occasional actor and is supporting the Essex County Council Essex Year of Reading campaign.


Let's get Essex reading in 2022


The Essex Education Task Force has allocated £1 million to support and promote reading in schools this academic year 2021-22. Our aim:

Every Essex child a confident reader


Renewal: to support children and young people who have fallen behind with their reading over the past year.

Equality: to read confidently is the golden key to being a successful learner.

Ambition: to ensure that every Essex child leaves school able to read at their age level or better.


The reading investment in schools will lead on to an Essex Year of Reading 2022. The aims:
  1. To encourage every community across the county to promote the importance of reading.

  2. To encourage every family to enjoy reading together.

  3. To encourage businesses, large and small across Essex, to promote the fun and joy of reading.

Biography of Year of Reading Steering Group members

Rachel Pritchard - Lyons Hall Primary

I have been teaching in Essex for over twenty-five years. I am currently the deputy headteacher at Lyons Hall Primary School in Braintree, with responsibility for English.

I have always been interested in reading, but it was in 2016, while watching our Y6 try to tackle the new style SATs reading paper that my interest in the subject took on a whole new level. We realised as a school that we were not skilling up our children well enough to be able to tackle reading with confidence. This was going to require a whole-school approach. Hours of research later our Developing Reading Comprehension Programme was born.

Five years later I have worked with hundreds of teachers from primary and secondary schools and together we have learnt a huge amount about how to effectively enable all children to read well.

I am excited to be involved with Essex's Year of Reading. If we can help children to read well so that they can access the secondary curriculum, which is so often over 60% text based, then we will have achieved our aim.

I believe passionately that we should do all we can to help children to read well and ultimately for enjoyment. In the words of Kate DiCamillo, 'Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty. It should be offered as a gift.'

Sonia Barber - Janet Duke Primary

I have been a teacher for over twenty years, in Essex and East London and have seen first-hand the importance of reading, not only in the classroom but also how skills developed can enhance life experiences and successes beyond the classroom, equality for all in reading confidently is the golden key to becoming a successful learner, reading provides the gateway to the curriculum.

Teaching reading can be challenging but is worthwhile and igniting passion for reading in pupils and being able to see the 'lightbulb moment' as young people gain skills needed not only to read on a functional level but also being able to access text for pleasure is rewarding.

The importance of reading far outreaches the classroom and the importance of promoting reading as a life skill and as an enjoyable pastime is something that can be emphasised in every school nationwide. Therefore, I am proud to be part of the Essex Year of Reading and a member of the Reading Steering Group. My focus will be the link in reading in the transitional years between Y6 and Y7, with the skills developed in Y6 being inherited and enhanced by Y7 staff to ensure that all Essex pupils leave school able to read at their age level or better. This will involve the support of pupils and young people who have fallen behind with their reading over the past year and working alongside other professionals to provide the best opportunities for pupils in Essex.

Justine McFarland - Roseacres Primary

I have been a teacher in Hertfordshire and Essex for the past 10 years. I currently work at Roseacres Primary School in Takeley where I am the KS2 Lead, Year 6 teacher and English lead. My passion has always been English, particularly reading and the impact it can have on raising writing standards and oracy confidence. I have been a KS2 county writing moderator for the past 5 years. I am also proud to be a part of the Disadvantaged Champion Programme, striving to close gaps through language and comprehension skills.

Reading and language skills are always a focus in EYFS and KS1. However, I believe that in order to give our learners the best possible chance to be independent and confident learners of the future, we must ensure we explicitly model and teach reading skills throughout KS2 and into KS3.

We have all been given an excellent opportunity through this wonderful Year of Reading Programme; with the right strategies we can enable all young children to have confidence in reading for educational progression as well as personal development.

Tony Taylor - Shenfield High School

I am the SENCo at Shenfield High School and a large part of my responsibility is reading recovery and intervention, ensuring that all the young people in our school can read and access the curriculum in an age-appropriate manner. Throughout my time as a SENCo, I have used a range of intervention programmes with a great deal of success and our current package is having massive impact on our young peoples' reading ability, self-esteem and engagement with the curriculum in lessons.

Reading is the key to everything in life. It is the key to unlocking the curriculum and making the academic progress that someone is capable of making. It is the key to unlocking the world – think about road signs, shopping lists, websites, gaming instructions, furniture instructions; the list is endless. It is also the key to unlocking our creativity and well-being; it is the medium that allows us to be transported to other worlds from the comfort of our armchairs. I am committed to ensuring every young person leaves school able to read at an age-appropriate level – this is the only way we can ensure that each generation continues to thrive and live a life that means that they are able to achieve their dreams and fulfil their passions.

Through working with the Steering Group, and as part of the Year of Reading Team, I would like to work with schools, other organisations and young people to develop interventions and programmes around reading recovery and support. The partnership with schools and the work that we can do together can have a massive impact not just on individuals but reduce the workload of schools and members of staff. I have developed a range of transition plans and resources and I would also like to work with schools on testing and identification of young people who need support with their reading skills.


Roy Blatchford CBE, Independent Chair of the Essex Education Task Force, said:

"We know that being able to read confidently is the key to being a successful learner in all other areas of life. We strongly believe this investment will help those who have fallen behind with their reading over the past year and help them to thrive in other aspects of their education."

"During the roll out of the Year of Reading, we will be working with many local partners across Essex such as libraries, Adult Community Learning, and local businesses, in addition to schools and colleges."


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