Partnership with Rotary Club means new Kindles for Academy students

Rotary club donates Kindles - April 2015 - 600px.jpg

Something special is going on at Dartmouth this year. A new structured partnership between the Academy and the Rotary Club of Dartmouth, the Youth Liaison Group.

We have always worked well with Rotary, benefiting from entering their Youth Speaks competition and the Young Chef competition as well as submitting nominations for their Community Youth Award each year. Last autumn, starting at the Dartmouth Food Festival, our entries for the Rotary Young Chef competition progressed further than ever before, competing at District level against entries from across the County, and we have even more ambitious plans for 2015-2016! We have always been delighted with the support we have had but this year, under the leadership of Peter Goldstraw at Rotary, we have developed a more strategic and structured view of how to get the best educational value from this relationship. Just before Easter the Youth Liaison Group met with our Youth Council to look at which of the various Rotary events the students would like to become involved with and how these can better link in with the curriculum plans in place. This means we are likely to take part in new ventures such as the Young Photographer competition, something where our talented A Level photography students will be able to show off their skills and expertise in a more public forum. Perhaps the most exciting joint venture which is new to us and is unique to our links with the Rotary Club of Dartmouth is our drive to improve literacy, the Literacy Improvement For Education (LIFE) project. Literacy is a major focus for Rotary International as well as a major initiative within the Academy and with the support of Rotary we are likely to be able to reach the most reluctant of readers with resources we would have otherwise not have been able to access. Supported by Rotary, the Academy put forward a bid to the Rotary District Funds for support to develop a project to encourage reluctant readers. This project is based on using Amazon Kindles and following the successful bid, and generous additional funding from our local Rotary club, 12 were delivered just before Easter. Academy Librarian Liz Wilson, has received these e-readers and has now downloaded a number of the books most popular with our learners. She is also speaking to the Rotarians to encourage their further participation as mature 'Reading Buddies'. Too many Young people have yet to develop the love and passion of a good story and the aim with these e-readers is to see how they improve the engagement and enjoyment of reading for those who have struggled most historically. The newness and different means of engagement are two ways in which we expect the Kindles to impact on our students' desire to read as well as which, for those with poor phonic skills or poor English language skills, then the Kindle offers the opportunity to read aloud the story to the student. We track, four times each year, the progress of every learner's reading age. It is very clear that by the time students reach the age of 16 and are taking their GCSE examinations that poor literacy undoubtedly leads to poor examination results and hinders their career prospects. The use and impact of these Kindles will be measured to see whether they accelerate the progress of young people in improving their reading, their comprehension and their vocabulary; as we expect to be the case. I look forward to the reporting on further success of the partnership with Rotary later in the year. I firmly believe this is an excellent example of how the Dartmouth community are pulling together for the benefit of the young people we serve.

Nick Hindmarsh, Principal – Dartmouth Academy