Manchester City Council

Reading Ahead

Went to a great event yesterday lunchtime thanks to an invite from Steve Lynch, UNISON Education Officer and Union Learning Reps Co-ordinator. The City Council's Libraries together with UNISON have been promoting the six book challenge, the aim to get more people to read for pleasure. For the participants, as well as the sheer enjoyment, there are lots of benefits, better mental health, more confidence, better skills, better able to read to and with the kids ( if you've got them ), and for the Council it helps to positively develop our workforce.

Yesterday was certificate presentation for people who have completed the challenge so a great celebratory event and UNISON even provided some refreshments. We were entertained with powerful poetry from award winning Manchester poet Ben Mellor, a raffle with great prizes including of course books and e-readers, and the Chief Executive of the Reading Agency told us that Manchester was an exemplar in using the challenge, now renamed Reading Ahead, in getting people reading. Within the Council, Manchester Adult Education Service have also been using the challenge, and as Steve told us yesterday, there's more to come.

Talking of challenges, this afternoon I met the new management team for our Childrens Services division. It's a little over a year since Ofsted adjudged our Childrens Services to be inadequate and since then Executive Member for Childrens Services,Sheila Newman, and Director of Childrens Services, Gladys Rhodes White, have been working not only to ensure immediate improvements, but also to build a team capable of leading the department from inadequate through requires improvement to good. Of course the responsibility doesn't just lie with the department, but with other parts of the Council and with partner organisations as well, but there still needs to be strong leadership for childrens services to not only play its part but to make sure others are contributing. A new team is now in place. All of them come with excellent track records and with no illusions about the challenges we face and what is required to meet them so we can have some confidence that the improvements of the last twelve months will continue.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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