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Local children’s author opens ‘Reading Rocks Shed’ in Walker to help children catch up after covid

articleindex follow modules Array 1 (l-r) Simon Bertram (author); Sean Soulsby (CEO, Children’s Foundation); Michelle Hardie (Philanthropy Advisor, Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland); with students from Tyneview Primary School.

Photo: Students at Tyneview Primary being read to in the ‘Reading Rocks Shed’.

Simon Bartram, the local author of the popular children’s book ‘Man on the Moon’ officially opened the ‘Reading Rocks Shed’ at Tyneview Primary School in Walker on Friday 9 July.  

The ‘Reading Rocks Shed’ – named by the students at the Newcastle school – is an engaging, creative space that will allow small groups of students to be helped with their reading. The project aimed at supporting children to catch-up after the impact of Covid, has been funded by a £14,000 grant from the Guy Readman Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. 

Lockdowns and remote learning have meant many young people have missed out on daily phonics, reading in class and 1:1 reading. The shed looks to rectify this by providing opportunities to promote a love of reading and supporting the key skills to improve as a reader. 

Simon Bartram is a local author who lives in Gateshead with his family who regularly works with schools. His best-selling book Man on the Moon won the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award in 2004 and has become a classic and part of the National Curriculum. 

He said about the Shed: 

“I am so very impressed with this beautiful ‘Reading Rocks’ Den. I’m sure it will provide a fantastic home for the children to explore their imaginations and creativity through wonderful stories and illustrations. Happy Reading!”  

Jon Goodwin, Senior Philanthropy Advisor at the Community Foundation, said: 

“The impact of Covid on children’s schooling is well-documented, and we were keen to make some targeted grants to stop kids in disadvantaged areas falling further behind.  

“We know from our existing relationship with the Children’s Foundation that they were well-placed to make this happen in Walker, and the Reading Rocks shed will be really important in terms of helping current pupils ‘catch up’ in a fun and engaging way, while leaving the school with a lasting physical resource for years to come.  

The entire project is child led, exploring and building on their own individual likes, hobbies and interests. The children will be encouraged to learn through literacy based play and activities including messages in a bottle, poetry, Jenga with words, creating cartoon strips, storytelling through puppet making and role play. 

Sean Soulsby, CEO of The Children’s Foundation, said: 

“There has been a lot of national press and media coverage about the negative impact on children’s education due to school closures because of Covid-19. Our Reading Rocks Project will help children catch up on their reading and literacy in the coming months. 

“This is an amazing space made possible by funding from the Community Foundation and is something that has been designed with and for the children here at Tyneview Primary. Together with the school we are confident this resource will enable the children to catch up.” 

The grant was given to The Children’s Foundation, a charitable organisation, to undertake the project at a school they had identified as part of a broader literacy project. If you are considering applying to the Community Foundation, please read our funding guidance to ensure you meet the criteria: