Evaluation in the National Year of Reading (an introduction)
One of the ambitions for the National Year of Reading (NYR) is that the recognition of the value of reading and literacy promotion to individuals, to communities and to partnership working within and external to local authorities. This recognition will result in a higher profile for reading and literacy as an area of work that cuts across local authority service areas and which contributes to the successful delivery of a range of authority ambitions and improvement targets.
There are four key ways to make the strategic case for literacy and reading as a cross-cutting priority in your authority and to raise the profile of the work that you and your partners deliver as part of the National Year of Reading:
1. Making the link to your authority’s strategic delivery plans It’s important that literacy and reading promotion activities are embedded in your authority’s strategic plans e.g. Children and Young People’s Plan, Health and Wellbeing Plan and Local Area Agreements.
This approach is explored in the paper “Local Authority Strategic Plans Explained” which has already been circulated and is available to download via the NYR website.
2. Working in partnership with other staff and service areas The strategic argument for reading and literacy is strengthened when you can demonstrate how literacy and reading promotion activities is delivered as a partnership activity and through a range of services. In addition this approach helps raise awareness among staff across the authority on how reading and literacy links to their own.
3. Advocacy It’s important to consider how to make the case for literacy and reading to senior managers (Director and Assistant Director level if possible), your Chief Executive and to Elected Members.
This approach and the one outlined in point 2 above are considered in the paper, “Advocacy and Actions” which has also been circulated and can be downloaded via the NYR website.
4. Evaluation Without capturing and presenting data to demonstrate the impact of these activities the case for reading and literacy is undermined. Evidence, from evaluation, can demonstrate how literacy and reading promotion activities contribute to the delivery of authority ambitions and targets.
These documents gives some advice and guidance on how evaluation can be undertaken:
The four activities above make up the key strands of work for the NYR Coordinator. The logic behind this is that one person can see a coherent picture of all the literacy and reading activity across an authority and will be able to articulate its impact.
In reality not only do these four strands overlap but your ability to fulfill them will depend on resources available, the level of direct senior support for your role in the NYR and the existing recognition (or not) of literacy as a strategic priority.