Launch of Sheffield's Year of Communication - part of the ESCAL project

Yesterday (29/4/10) I was at the launch of Sheffield's Year of Communication. Sheffield is eight months ahead of a national year of communication which will run in 2011.

Sheffield's Year of Communication is part of the ESCAL project (Every Sheffield Child Articulate and Literate by the age of 11). Reading Matters is fully engaged with ESCAL, supporting volunteer reading mentoring in schools and organising family literacy training and support programmes.
There were some very engaging speakers and workshops at the launch. I particularly enjoyed Mick Waters, president of the Curriculum Foundation. He encouraged everyone to have realistic conversations with children and young people; not adopting that classic sing-song voice when speaking to young children, or telling a pupil to do something then two minutes later asking "so, what are you doing?". He spoke about Talk Partners in the classroom, but the message is the same for Reading Matters one-to-one reading sessions; conversations are so much more powerful when the "[young people] know that their partner does not know". Young people love to tell you facts and opinions when you show you are genuinely interested.
Mick ended they day with a video, that could have been one of Reading Matters reading sessions, with an adult and a pupil reading together. By the end of the clip a host of children who started out off-camera were crowding round the two readers to get involved. As Mick said, it was the adult giving her time, attention and dedication to the children that made all the difference.

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