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Nick Hewer pays visit to Kensington Aldridge Academy

Former Apprentice star supports literacy programme that helps disadvantaged pupils succeed at school

Posted by Stephanie Broad | November 02, 2015 | School life

Nick Hewer, ambassador to the National Literacy Trust, visited Kensington Aldridge Academy in London recently. Nick, who appeared in BBC television show The Apprentice as an adviser to Lord Alan Sugar and currently presents the Channel 4 programme Countdown, was there to find out more about the National Literacy Trust’s Literacy for Life programme which equips pupils with the academic language used in most of their lessons, to enable them to succeed in subjects across the curriculum.

Literacy for Life puts literacy at the heart of whole-school improvement and provides teachers with the additional skills and knowledge of language they need to narrow the gap between pupils who are eligible for free school meals and their peers. It addresses a language and literacy deficit, which many children from disadvantaged backgrounds have when they start secondary school. The programme, which also encourages pupils to read more for enjoyment, is funded by the JJ Charitable Trust and is being piloted in six schools from the Aldridge and Ormiston academy chains.

During his tour of Kensington Aldridge Academy, Nick talked to students and staff and was introduced to local entrepreneurs who are based at the school in Silchester Road.

The National Literacy Trust’s Strategic Lead for School Improvement, Susan Aykin, said: “Without a good understanding of the academic language which is used across the curriculum in secondary schools, pupils will not be able to succeed, even in the subjects they are good at. Our Literacy for Life programme improves pupils’ understanding of the vocabulary they need to achieve good marks in class and in exams. It also encourages pupils to read more for enjoyment, which is vital because there is a clear link between reading for pleasure and attainment. The innovative approach of our Literacy for Life Programme, which is tailored to the needs of each pupil, is transforming their life chances.”

Nick Hewer said: “Not all pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds speak or even comprehend the language used in subjects across the curriculum. The National Literacy Trust’s Literacy for Life programme gives teachers the extra skills and knowledge they need to help pupils understand what they must do to succeed in the classroom. This is invaluable because once these young people are fluent in academic language, a whole range of new possibilities opens up for them. Literacy for Life is helping to create more confident young communicators who will go on to fulfil their potential at school and in the workplace.”

Honor Wilson Fletcher, Chief Executive of the academy’s sponsor the Aldridge Foundation, said: “Our students experience literacy challenges which get in the way of learning and which disadvantage them in life. Like the National Literacy Trust, we are committed to developing a whole-school, structural approach to tackling literacy - giving our students the communication skills they need to be 'life-ready' as well as to excel in the classroom and beyond.”

“We are proud to be part of this ground breaking national project, and hope that what we learn with the National Literacy Trust and Ormiston can be shared for the benefit of young people and future entrepreneurs everywhere.”

Academy Principal, David Benson, added: “Research shows that reading for pleasure outweighs every social advantage, including parents’ income, in the future success of the child. A student’s success depends not just on whether they can read, but on whether they do read and take enjoyment from doing so. For that reason KAA is a school that loves to read! Every morning in the academy starts with a reading lesson, and all teachers are trained to teach reading and literacy through the delivery of their subjects.”    

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