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Schools at the heart of initiatives to boost literacy in the digital age
Pinned News
14 February 2019
Silverdale launches literacy hub
25 January 2019

On a day that reflected broad opportunities to boost literacy in the digital age, University of Brighton Academies Trust schools were at the heart of two separate initiatives led by Google and the National Literacy Trust. 

Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and MP for Hastings and Rye, attended both events. She said of the work of the Trust:

“It has been wonderful to visit the schools today and to see at first hand the University of Brighton Academies Trust’s good work in Hastings. On a day promoting traditional literacy with the launch of the Hastings Literacy Hub at Silverdale Primary Academy it was also great to see digital literacy at the forefront too, with a wonderful Google facilitated workshop linking the tech pioneer with The Hastings Academy.”

Silverdale Primary Academy was the morning focus for ‘Get Hastings Reading’, a new literacy hub, led by The National Literacy Trust and the Hastings Opportunity Area, backed by the Department for Education. Over the next ten years, local schools, businesses and cultural organisations will collaborate to deliver events and opportunities to raise awareness of the importance of literacy. 

The Rt Hon Amber Rudd cut the ribbon to open the revamped Silverdale library, complete with its own ‘treehouse’ reading area, and then read Ted Hughes’ Iron Man to a group of pupils.

“I’m proud of everyone here and delighted to help celebrate reading by opening this library,” said Ms Rudd, who asked the pupils if they preferred digital tablets or books. 
“Both!” came the enthusiastic reply. “Whatever the format, my advice to you is to get reading!”

Of the longer-term goals of the initiative she added to the assembled local press and community representatives: 
“We need to look to the future, being part of an Opportunity Area means collaborating and all playing a part in this as parents, carers and teachers. This way we will build truly sustainable development for our community.”

Jonathan Morris, Silverdale Principal, introduced the MP to the school’s playful ‘Ninja’ characters, cartoon figures, each with attributes aimed at helping inspire, boost and guide children. 
“We want to be aspirational and ambitious and we want to keep getting better. We expect everyone to help create a place where we can all thrive and enjoy being together,” Mr Morris said.
By the time the Rt Hon Amber Rudd left Silverdale she had accepted Mr Morris’s invitation to become a ‘Ninja’ ambassador on behalf of the school. 

Internet citizens at The Hastings Academy

The next stop took Ms Rudd, accompanied by Dr John Smith, Chief Executive of the University of Brighton Academies Trust, to The Hastings Academy, where they met Principal Hilary Morawska and a visiting team from Google. 

Ms Morawska outlined why the partnership with Google was so important:
“We are delighted to have been chosen by Google as this will help our pupils get the digital literacy they need. It will help them break out of those bubbles – whether emotional or negative – and realise that they have rights in digital space. We hope it will help empower them to make better choices.”

Having observed the enthusiastic participation of pupils at the workshop, Amber Rudd addressed the pupils taking part:
“Sometimes it is hard to be resilient against the negatives – and hate –  out there online. The first line of defence is each of you. And because of the scale and speed of digital communication, governments are struggling to keep up and can make wrong moves. 
“How can we help you all make the right decisions? This Google-hosted workshop is a good example of building tech that improves people’s lives. I have two kids and I’m aware of how difficult it is for them. Thank you to Google and The Hastings Academy for helping build resilience and knowledge in digital citizenship.”

What, a workshop participant asked, helped Amber Rudd stay resilient?
“Know what’s important to you. If you think your priorities are right you have a strength, and that will help you get on with what you believe in. That’s what makes you stronger.”

Dr John Smith, Chief Executive of the Trust, said of the two linked events: 
“It was inspiring to see such a wide age span of pupils at Trust schools all engaging so enthusiastically and knowledgeably with literacy. The world is changing so quickly and to help our children participate and thrive they need to be literate. That might start with traditional books but it quickly evolves into the digital sphere and I was heartened to see our work bridging gaps, explaining rights and creating opportunities like this. My thanks to the Rt Hon Amber Rudd for joining us on this special day to celebrate this good work.”