Literacy project set to improve prospects for young people

A pioneering project to help local young people improve their literacy skills has begun thanks to a collaboration between the University of Sheffield, Sheffield City Council and local secondary schools.

The Literary Exchange and Achievement Programme (LEAP) is an innovative programme that partners undergraduate students of English and Education with groups of secondary school pupils to improve their reading comprehension abilities.

Over a period of several months the undergraduates and pupils will work together using internationally recognised methods to improve their literacy and help them achieve the results they need to progress with future education or employment. The project is part of the successful Storying Sheffield initiative in the School of English.

Project Officer Matt Colbeck explained: "The school pupils taking part in this project will get a unique opportunity to work with university student mentors, using research based techniques to help them improve their literacy."

Professor Brendan Stone, Director of Storying Sheffield at the University of Sheffield, said: "For the university, this project will deepen our understanding of how to enhance reading ability, and the challenges which young people face. Our undergraduates will not only gain knowledge of literacy, learning and working with young people but will also glean valuable insight into their University city, its people and concerns."

Vicki Ransome, Assistant Headteacher at Ecclesfield School, said: "Improvement of literacy at all key stages is a huge priority for schools, so this project will not only help support this but will also grant undergraduate students a fundamental experience of mentoring within a classroom environment."

The project, which will start working in local schools this term, forms part of the growing programme of civic engagement projects at the University with the hope that it will become a full module for undergraduates in 2014/15.

The knowledge and skills that undergraduates acquire will aid their career planning and support greater civic awareness amongst the next generation of professionals.

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