A player for West Ham United FC ladies team visited Apex Primary School today (Tuesday 1st May) to congratulate pupils on their knock-out performance in a UK-wide reading competition.

West Ham United Foundation joined forces with award-winning education charity, Achievement for All, on their 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge, which has seen 200,000 children in schools, homes and community groups across Britain kick illiteracy out of the park as they read more than 100 million minutes over the month of March.

To commend Apex Primary School for clocking a remarkable 683,419 minutes and finishing in the top four schools across the UK, pupils and staff met with Amber Stobbs, player for West Ham United Ladies FC, as well as mascot Bubbles the Bear as they received a signed shirt and £1,000 RRP worth of books from campaign sponsor, Book People, for their achievements.

Speaking about their impressive result in the challenge, the Literacy Coordinator at the school, Miss Parvin said: “Our kids worked so hard in this competition because they absolutely love reading. It is one of the many things that Apex has always set as a high aspiration, and we are delighted it has paid off.”

Offering her congratulations, footballer, Amber Stobbs, said: “I’d like to say a massive well done to all of the pupils at Apex Primary School for your incredible reading efforts. With that level of determination and commitment, I have no doubt that each and every one of you will go on to realise your dreams.

“I always knew I wanted to be a footballer and while my journey has had its fair share of set-backs and obstacles to overcome, with hard work and perseverance I’m now living out my dream. It can be easy to judge a book by its cover, but having good literacy skills and being able to express yourself helps you to realise your ambitions no matter who you are, where you come from or what you want to be.”

Sarah Walden, Group Buying & Merchandising Director at Book People, who sponsored the challenge also said: “We’re thrilled to see that the 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge has generated so much interest and engagement in reading. To see such dedication across the country is truly remarkable and we are proud to award £1,000 RRP worth of books to Apex Primary School. We hope that these books continue to inspire and captivate these budding readers. Well done to everyone who took part in this incredible initiative.”

As part of the 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge, exciting events and activities have been taking place across the month – all with the aim to inspire children and young people to read more regularly and understand the possibilities that literacy can unlock.

Functional illiteracy costs the UK economy £36 billion a year, with one in four working-age adults struggling to read and write, according to the latest report from the World Literacy Foundation. Research from the Fair Education Alliance also revealed that that up to three in five children from socio-economic disadvantage leave primary school in this country without achieving the expected standard of reading, with the effect on their self-confidence and job opportunities long-lasting.

Professor Sonia Blandford, CEO at Achievement for All – the charity that heads-up the initiative and works to improve outcomes for all children and young people who are vulnerable to underachievement said: "Literacy levels are one of the greatest drivers of social inequality in the UK today. It is unacceptable that so many children and young people feel their potential is being thwarted because of their background or circumstances.

“We are delighted that so many schools, parents, carers and community groups across Britain have taken part in our reading challenge and joined the campaign to build a fairer society by engaging young people with literacy. Imagine what worlds have been explored and possibilities unlocked in 100 million minutes of reading?

“Apex Primary School and West Ham United Foundation really are leading the way here and I urge everyone to think about how they too can support the children in their communities to become lifetime readers, achieve and lead happy lives long after the challenge has ended.”

West Ham United Foundation, which aims to promote health and wellbeing through community participation in sports, tackle exclusion and poverty while advancing the education of children and young people, is among a host of organisations and individuals who are supporting the challenge, including international supermodel David Gandy, Hollywood star Lennie James and a range of authors. 

Ross Williams, Senior School Development Officer at West Ham United Foundation said: “We’re very proud to be supporting the 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge - engaging children in our community with literacy is an issue close to our hearts. Through our workshops and literacy-themed sessions in schools across East London and Essex, we see what good can be achieved from harnessing the power of football and the club’s influence to inspire and motivate young minds.

“It’s fantastic to have Amber Stobbs sharing her experience with children today – she shows what can be achieved from hard work and believing in your dreams.”

For more information about the 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge, please visit: www.100millionminutes.org.

- Ends -

Notes to Editors

If you are interested in attending the celebration event or receiving photographs to accompany any stories you are writing, please contact Jessica Bull on jbull@consiliumcommunications.co.uk or call 07496 727202.

About the 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge

  • The 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge 2018 is a free national reading initiative from education charity Achievement for All, which aims to ignite a love of reading among children and young people

  • The campaign is sponsored by leading bookseller, Book People

  • Alongside schools, early years settings, parents, carers, childminders and community groups across the UK, children and young people will try to read for a collective 100 million minutes

  • The campaign week starting on World Book Day (Thursday 1 March 2018), will kick start a month of reading, with settings logging their reading minutes until 5pm on Thursday 29thMarch 2018

  • There will be inclusive events taking place across the challenge to bring books to life and engage children and young people with reading by highlighting the worlds and possibilities that literacy unlocks

  • The settings that achieve the highest average number of reading minutes will win up to £5,000 worth of book titles from Book People, as well as a range of other exciting prizes

  • For more information, visit www.100MillionMinutes.org, or follow @AfA_Education on Facebook and Twitter #100MillionMinutes

About West Ham United Foundation 

  • To promote health and wellbeing through community participation in sports, tackle exclusion and poverty and advance the education of children and young people

  • Deliver Premier League Primary Stars Programme within 70 Primary Schools across East London and Essex

  • West Ham United Foundation delivery has contributed 13620 minutes of literacy provision across East London and Essex throughout this campaign 

About Book People

  • BookPeople was founded in 1988, on the principle of making books available and affordable to everyone.

  • Our dedicated team of bookexperts use their vast experience to select our Hand-Picked Favourites and we also have our extensive library of over 150,000 items – where there is something for everyone, from the latest titles to timeless classics.

  • We’re proud to be the authority in children’s booksand we enjoy communicating with our customers in a variety of ways to suit them best, whether it’s through our catalogue or online, school book fairs, book buses, social media or our leading blog, The Blurb.

  • For a full list of our children’s books and gifts, please visit our website thebookpeople.co.uk.

About Achievement for All

  • Achievement for All is a leading not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with early years settings, schools and colleges, improving outcomes for all children and young people vulnerable to underachievement, regardless of their background, challenge or need

  • Achievement for All empowers young people, as well as their teachers, parents and carers, by working to transform lives through personal coaching, professional support, and a leading network of educational experts

  • Achievement for All programmes have been used in almost 4,500 schools, colleges, and early years settings to date, and have so far had a profound and measurable impact on the lives of more than 100,000 children and young people to date as well as their families and the adults that support them

  • In 2016, an independent assessment conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that as a result of Achievement for All’s Achieving Schools programme, the progress of targeted children and young people in reading, writing and mathematics was raised to a standard above the national expected level by up to 50%

  • Achievement for All’s 2015 Interim Evaluation Report identified a reduction in exclusion in schools and settings by a factor of four (400%)

  • In further reports on Achievement for All’s Achieving Early programme, it was identified that 100% practitioners reported higher levels of confidence in working with parents, and that personal, social and emotional assessments at age-expected levels rose from 23% to 73%

  • To donate, get in touch, or for more information, visit afaeducation.org

  • Follow Achievement for All on Twitter @AfA_Education, Facebook AfAEducation, LinkedIn achievement-for- all-3as and Instagram @afa_education