Justin Tomlinson MP

Justin Tomlinson MP

MP For North Swindon

Swindon Advertiser Column - Reading Success Good News For Children

One of the best things we can pass on to our children is a love of reading with studies have shown that reading is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success. I was therefore delighted to hear this week that Primary School pupils in the UK are now ranked 4th in the world for reading, a significant improvement.

Throughout my time as a Councillor and as the MP, I have been a strong advocate for literacy & reading and making sure that every child has the opportunity to learn to love reading.

Formally as the Cabinet Member on Swindon Borough Council, I was responsible for delivering the then £10 million Central Library in the Town Centre. And as the local MP, I have worked closely with the National Literacy Trust on several campaigns as well as businesses including WH Smith to both promote reading and provide books for children across the country, including locally a book giveaway for the wonderful Swindon Young Carers.

In Parliament I host the official launch of the Summer Reading Challenge in Parliament every year - a fantastic initiative which I know many youngsters in Swindon enjoy. I have also previously served as the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Libraries, and I support the Swindon based Association of School Libraries. I also recently attended the National Literacy Trusts Literacy Leaders event in Parliament to hear about the work of Swindon Stories – a partnership between Swindon Borough Council and WH Smith which works closely with people from across the community, as well as education partners, libraries, and businesses, to promote reading and drive-up literacy levels.

Investing in education is a key priority for this Government, which recently announced an extra £2 billion funding for state schools this year and next – with North Swindon receiving an extra £2.9 million. I have consistently lobbied for more funding for all of our schools in Swindon, supported the scrapping of Labour’s unfair & outdated funding formula which saw Swindon schools miss out, and I am particularly pleased that we continue to put more money into the Pupil Premium to target support to the most disadvantaged schools. We have also delivered both new schools, fully funded and improvements to existing schools – helping make sure Swindon delivers one of the highest rates of parents school choices in the UK.

Finally, this week I met Highworth Warneford pupils Perrin, Lucas and Mason – who have worked together with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and the AQA Unlocking Potential project to organise an inclusive sports day at Uplands School. The participation of disabled people in sport is significantly lower than that of non-disabled people, so the group wanted to look for ways to address this problem. Having identified the issues which might prevent people with disabilities engaging with sport, they carefully considered how they could take these challenges into account and create a sports day everyone could take part in. As the former Minister for Disabled people, I worked hard to break down the barriers which prevent people with disabilities taking part in sport. I am therefore delighted that young people like Perrin, Lucas and Mason are also keen to tackle this important issue. It was also great to see how the project has helped the trio build their confidence and develop key skills – such as teamwork, project organisation and planning, and communication skills. The students will also be attending a reception in London later in the summer. I look forward to hearing how their day goes and hope they enjoy their trip to London – where they may even meet with Dame Kelly Holmes!

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