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York's £65k scheme for reading with dad
MORE than 600 children from some of the poorest parts of York will benefit from a scheme encouraging fathers to read to them.
York has become one of only four places in England to enjoy a boost which will see £65,000 of Government funding spent on encouraging bedtime stories and other reading activities.
The Department for Education cash has been awarded to City of York Council’s early years and children’s centres team.
The scheme is led by the Fatherhood Institute and will run from 2013-2015, targeting more than 600 children from areas of York where education standards are low.
Fathers will be encouraged to engage more fully in their children’s education, including through the Father’s Reading Every Day (FRED) four-week programme.
Local dad Neil Gulliver said: “Personally, I have always read to my two boys and I don’t get why other dads don’t. But anything that encourages them to read to children has to be a good thing.”
Male volunteers will also be trained to go into schools and provide children with a positive father figure.
Coun Janet Looker, the council’s cabinet member for education, children and young people, said: “We already have some great dads, teachers, care workers and volunteers in York and this initiative is about celebrating the work they do and encouraging other men to get involved.”
Scarborough vicar turned children’s author GP Taylor, who is a champion of literacy programmes for young people, said: “It should be a natural part of fatherhood. It should not need to be paid for. It is a sad society we live in. But on the other hand, any encouragement for parents to read to children is a very positive thing.”
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s essential that parents are involved in their children’s education, but it should not be the responsibility of the council to hold their hands while doing so.
“The authorities need to focus on using taxpayers’ cash to provide top-quality education for our children and leave parenting to parents.”
A Fatherhood Institute spokesman said fathers’ lack of interest could be the biggest setback to a child’s learning, and said the habits inspired on the course could last a lifetime.
• Anyone with a two or four-year-old child should contact their local children’s centre if they want to become involved in FRED.
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