We are proud to work with Bradford based education partners, National Literacy Trust, Leading Children and Chapter One.

Research shows that during the initial school closures in 2020, 3 in 5 children and young people said that reading made them feel better. 3 in 10 said that reading helped them when they feel sad because they cannot see their family and friends.

Because low literacy is intergenerational, our education partners focus their work on families, young people and children.

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Bradford is the fifth largest local authority in England and continues to be an area of high disadvantage, with almost 40% of children living in poverty. In addition, it is a region of high ethnic diversity which results in a high proportion of households that do not have English as their first language. This exacerbates the literacy issues in the area. 

Working with National Literacy Trust

We continue to support National Literacy Trust to continue its place-based approach in this area engaging with the wider community through its Bradford Hub, and the Words for Work Programme. 

Words for Work challenges inequalities in employment opportunities for young people from disadvantaged communities and helps them to develop the literacy and communication skills they need to reach their potential. The programme brings schools, colleges and businesses together to take literacy from the classroom and into the workplace.

With the National Literacy Trust we worked with the following schools: 

Key Stage 1:
• Ark Dickens Primary School, Portsmouth
• Frizinghall Primary School, Bradford
• Ark Ayrton Primary School, Portsmouth

Key Stage 3:
• Beckfoot Thornton School, Bradford
• One in a Million School, Bradford

Key Stage 4- Post-16:
• Brompton Academy, Gillingham
• Immanuel College, Bradford

Overall, 328 students participated in Words for Work. This provided an opportunity for them to meet Vanquis employees, engage in teacher-led sessions and receive tailored literacy, aspirations and employability support from the National Literacy Trust. 15 volunteers engaged throughout programme delivery, demonstrating how they use their literacy skills at work and giving insights into their jobs.


Works for Work: Dream Big for STEM

By continuing our partnership this year, the Dream Big for STEM programme was able to empower even more disadvantaged children aged 5-7 years old to develop the literacy skills they need to succeed, and to engage with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. The programme activities and employee engagements helped children challenge gender stereotypes and barriers and inspired them to explore the wonderful world of the opportunities available in STEM.

“The programme was a huge stimulus for our children, the fact that it was tactile and real-life by getting them to meet people from a place of work nearby was very useful for the children.” A teacher from a school in Portsmouth, who took part in Words for Work: Dream Big for STEM reflects on the impact of programme.

You can learn more about our work in 2023 with the National Literacy Trust below.


Working with Leading Children 

Through our partnership with education consultancy, Leading Children, we have supported the development and delivery of a Reciprocal Reading training programme to teachers at local schools in the Bradford area. This programme helps teachers to improve the quality of their teaching and uses specialist strategies to help children who might be a little slower to grasp some concepts to feel more engaged in lessons.

This not only builds confidence but also ensures engagement and therefore learning. In 2022, teachers from the following primary schools were involved in the project:

  • All Saints Primary, Bradford
  • Green Lane Primary, Bradford
  • Killinghall Primary, Bradford
  • St. Mary’s Middleton, Leeds
  • St. Mary’s Riddlesden, Keighley

All (100%) Nursery and Reception teachers felt that their ability in terms of teaching literacy had improved and reported seeing a huge difference in children’s independent writing, despite having had so much time off school. In key stages 1 and 2 every school took on board Reciprocal Reading as part of their teaching of reading comprehension. Again all teachers (100%) felt their ability in relation to teaching literacy had improved and in doing so the children had also improved.


Working with Chapter One

Working with Chapter One - who believe that the ability to read is the fundamental skill that underpins every child’s future educational attainment and helps them to fulfil their potential, to contribute to their community and ultimately to gain employment. Its core reading programme, which uses a unique, online platform to pair volunteers with children in need of reading support, has been proven to improve the reading enjoyment, ability and confidence of children from disadvantaged communities.

Chapter One volunteers use a bespoke internet platform and a voice connection to link – from their workplace or home – to a dedicated classroom laptop for 30 minutes a week, during the school day, over an entire academic year. The web-based platform offers a library of 250 stories organised according to ability and a range of fun, engaging activities that keep even the most reluctant readers engaged.

During 2023, 20 Vanquis Banking Group volunteers supported 21 children through the Chapter One programme in Earlsmead Primary in London and Byron Primary School in Bradford. As a consequence, children have benefited from 97 hours of one to one reading time and (for those receiving Chapter One for the 2022-23 academic year) progressed by 3.7 levels in their reading.

Reading has begun in earnest for the 2023-24 academic year and there are 27 Vanquis Banking Group volunteers supporting 23 children in Fearnville School and Horton Grange in Bradford and Earlsmead Primary and Bruce Grove Primary School in London. Volunteers completed 119 sessions and provided 44 hours of reading support in the Autumn school term of 2023. The total volunteering figures for 2023 came to 141 hours and 389 sessions - valuable reading time that children wouldn't have had without our partnership.

“We’re very grateful to Vanquis Banking Group supporting Chapter One. By giving children one-to-one reading support at the time they need it most, you are helping develop fundamental reading skills and inspiring a love for reading from an early age, helping to build confidence in children who might otherwise slip through the cracks.”

Emma Bell, CEO, Chapter One.

"Chapter One supports the children of Horton Park Primary School by helping them to feel confident about their reading. The tutors support the children by encouraging their prosody and fluency as well as the accurate reading of words and sounds. The children look forward to their session and building a fantastic relationship with their tutors. It enables the children to feel confident in their reading ability and their achievements in reading".

Laura Naylor Deputy Head Teacher Horton Park Primary School, Bradford.

Literacy Champions

In Bradford, the Trust are supported by a large and diverse group of 67 active Literacy Champions. This network is ever increasing with a further 20+ Literacy Champions who are to be trained and registered in 2024. The upcoming registrations will be from a recent partnership made with the Bradford East, Family Hub, Health Visting team and The Bradford Doulas. These partners are face-to-face with families on a weekly basis, visiting their homes and can share the key messaging around chat, play, reading, early literacy habits and language development with the parents/carers of infants and beyond.

The Trust continues to work closely with our highly motivated volunteers who were, in June 2023, responsible for running their own programme of events at Bradford Literature Festival, engaging with and book gifting to over 1,100 children and families. It is their intention to return to the festival in 2024 with an even more extensive and more exciting programme of events.

Their number of Youth Literacy Champions has increased, with 12 young people registered as volunteers. They have strong partnerships with Bradford High schools and youth groups within the Police Cadets, Speakers Corner, and Immanuel Sixth Form College.

Three of the Literacy Champions are now seeking employment, and two have been successful in securing jobs as teaching assistants in two local primary schools. Their hard work and recent achievements in their adult learning classes, now mean they have the correct qualifications for the role. Their time spent volunteering with Bradford Stories has also contributed to their increased confidence and desire to move into working with children in an educational setting.

Through Vanquis Banking Group's help, they have been able to grow our community book boxes to 25 across the district, with more to be established in 2024. These enable families and children to access a mixture of new and preloved books at no cost or responsibility to return the book. Messaging informs the families that these books are gifted from Bradford Stories, and it shares ideas of how to reshare it in their community, pass it on to a friend and find creative ways to review the book. The community book boxes are overseen by our Literacy Champions in residential areas, in community organisations and businesses.

We continue to support National Literacy Trust to continue its place-based approach in this area engaging with the wider community through its Bradford Hub. It also uses the iconic Bradford stories Bus to go into schools and community areas to raise engagement levels around reading. Storytelling, author visits and other activities add excitement and interest for the children, and this has been shown to encourage a love of reading. The initial bus tour went to three inner-city schools in less advantaged neighbourhoods in the Bradford area with local children’s author, Harry Heape. The Bradford Stories Bus tour was part of Harry’s new book launch tour in Bradford where children from the following schools got to meet and spend time with him:

  • Academy at St James
  • All Saints C of E Primary School
  • Carrwood Primary School
  • Girlington Primary School. 

During each visit, the author held inspiring sessions where he read to the children from some of his books and then facilitated a themed activity around it. He encouraged the children to create their own characters and start thinking about writing their own stories. In total the bus reached over 900 Year 3-6 pupils, gifting them each a signed copy of the author’s book as well as other books to take home.

This was also an enriching experience for the adults involved, from Headteachers who have had insights into new texts and materials which their children enjoy, to the authors and publishers who have been so touched and witnessed a growing influence of their work on children in Bradford. However, the most enriching experience has been with the children and young people who have been able to delve into the fantasy and adventure of books. This has really helped them to learn about the joy that reading can bring to them, which will in turn lead to improvements in literacy. 

“The staff and children who visited the bus during the day were in awe; they loved the sessions with Harry Heape and they were all so inspired to read his book that they even chose to read it at playtime. Lots of gorgeous books were kindly gifted to the children, many of whom don’t have any books of their own. The children in Reception couldn’t wait to show their books and magazines to their families at the end of the day. We all just had the best day ever and we very much look forward to more visits in the future”. 

Laura Hughes Assistant Headteacher Carrwood Primary School