Plans to hand out free books to under-fives praised by North Lincolnshire headteachers
HEAD teachers have praised plans to hand out free books to under-fives.
The literacy scheme will be trialled in the Isle of Axholme for up to six months before being expanded elsewhere.
Pam Tonge, head teacher at St Norbert's Catholic Voluntary Academy in Crowle, said: "This is a tremendous idea because all children will have access to lots of exciting books, which they can share with their families.
"It will encourage a love of reading and once they get the bug it is the start of a fantastic experience.
"I think it will be received wonderfully, especially because things are so tight for lots of families. It could make a huge difference."
Sarah Groves, head teacher at Belton All Saints CofE Primary School, said: "I look forward to hearing more about the scheme.
"Anything to get books into the home is very important.
"This will provide a very good start for all pupils before primary school and be of great benefit to them."
Rotherham was the first area in Britain to introduce the scheme, in 2008, and it has since been extended to areas such as Sheffield, Luton, Sheerness, Nottingham, Wigan and London.
Key Stage 1 (age 5-7), the number of pupils in Rotherham achieving level 2 (grade A*-E) or above in reading increased from 82 per cent in 2011 to 83 per in 2012.
Natalie Turnbull, regional director for the Dollywood Foundation UK, praised the council and Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy.
She said: "They've moved quickly and have been really supportive and enthusiastic about this project, which will aim to register every child aged 0-5 in Crowle and the Isle for this unique book gifting programme."
Councillor Rob Waltham, cabinet member for people at North Lincolnshire Council, said: "We have to start with a certain target area and there are some literacy problems in Crowle.
"This will be a controlled area that we can monitor. We need to be able to measure the progress the scheme makes."
Nic Dakin, Labour MP for Scunthorpe, said: "This raises a lot of questions for me. It is a lot of money to spend at a time when youth services are being diminished across the Scunthorpe constituency area.
"My questions are, to what extent has it been tested with people who have expertise locally?
"It is a good idea to pilot an incentive like this and it will be interesting to find out why they have chosen the Isle.
"The challenge is to get the home more involved and providing them with necessary support.
"Some people have backgrounds with lots of books at home, while others do not have them at all.
"The question is how to put that into place and this scheme might be something that assists with doing that."