Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
The mayor of Hastings Councillor Nigel Sinden with players

The mayor of Hastings Councillor Nigel Sinden with players

Hastings United Football Club helps to get kids reading

On Wednesday 29 January Hastings United Football club launched their book corner offering free children’s books as part of a new campaign, ‘Read Your Way’, aimed at improving reading levels in children and young people in Hastings. Vanessa Alves reports on the town’s latest literacy initiative.

Chris Agutter, Hastings United Manager, said: “Literacy is such a vitally important skill, and we are delighted if, as a football club, we can help inspire young fans to develop a love of reading that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

Read Your Way Ambassadors

Read Your Way Ambassadors

‘Read Your Way’ Ambassadors helped to paint the book corner in the team’s claret and blue colours. The hope is that the area will be used by children and young people to take books when they attend matches.

Reading levels

The ‘Read Your Way’ campaign is focusing on promoting a love of reading amongst children and young people in areas with low literacy levels. In Hastings more than 50% of disadvantaged pupils do not achieve expected reading levels by the end of primary school.

The Social Mobility Development Plan for Hastings states that, ‘From age six, children in Hastings start to fall behind their peers nationally, with disadvantaged pupils falling behind the most… Children not securing sound phonetic knowledge fall behind their peers from the start of their schooling. By the end of key stage 1 (age seven), achievement in reading is slightly below the national average (72% achieving the expected standard in Hastings compared with 74% nationally), but for disadvantaged pupils it is significantly lower, with just 56% achieving the expected standard. Pupils make less progress in reading between key stage 1 and key stage 2 than their peers across England.’

The effect of this is that ‘Young people from Hastings are more likely to be “not in education, employment or training” than young people in other areas and are less likely to progress to higher education.’

readyourway4Read Your Way

The campaign is committed to providing 10,000 free books to local children and young people in Hastings and St Leonards by the end of July 2020.

Led by Education Futures Trust, working in partnership with NSMC, FSN (Fellowship of St Nicholas), Hastings Storytelling Festival, Culture Shift and 18 Hours, and funded by Hastings Opportunity Area, it will run until July 2020. In addition to distributing 10,000 free children’s books, ‘Read Your Way’ has also been running workshops, storytelling groups and events around the town, including five Creative Cafes which use activities such as song-writing and script-writing to approach literacy.

Carole Dixon, chief executive of the Education Futures Trust, said: “We are getting brilliant support from the local community. We have already recruited an army of volunteers and a number of businesses in the town are also helping. Last week, ASDA collected over 900 children’s books for us and we’re hoping to announce many more drop-off points and book shelves very soon.”


The Mayor of Hastings Cllr Nigel Sinden, who attended the successful event, said, “Words are everywhere and the more we can read and understand them, the better our life is. I attended a recent Storytelling Group, which is part of the campaign, and enjoyed it. Well done to everybody who is supporting this campaign.”readyourway1

The spirit of the event really came to life and the book corner at the Pilot Field is one of five currently set up in the town where children and families can take free books. The other locations are Robsack Children’s Centre, Hastings Museum, Ore Community Centre and Education Futures Trust at The Firs.


If you or your business would like to donate books, collect books or to find out about how you can volunteer to help improve children’s literacy, please visit:  and



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Posted 14:06 Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 In: Young People

Also in: Young People

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