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Literacy news

We launch an exciting new partnership with Boots Opticians

18 May 2015

JD bootsWe are delighted to announce a pioneering partnership with Boots Opticians, which was launched at the Boots Opticians Annual Conference yesterday. Highlighting the links between eye health and literacy, the partnership aims to help improve the literacy outcomes of the UK’s most disadvantaged children.

It is estimated that around one million children have an undiagnosed vision problem and research shows that people from areas of deprivation are likely to delay having an eye test due to concerns about the cost of glasses, which can prevent early detection of vision impairment. With low levels of literacy most prevalent in the poorest communities, the partnership is motivated by a potential correlation between a child’s vision and literacy.

Boots Opticians will help us to break the cycle of illiteracy for disadvantaged children through clear action: volunteering in schools, community programmes, fundraising and campaigning for real changes in policy.

The partnership will begin with the Schools Challenge in September, when Boots Opticians volunteers will visit primary schools to encourage children to read for enjoyment and learn about eye health during assemblies and story times.  The Boots Book Challenge will then see volunteers will fundraise through book sales and there will be a fundraising tin in every Boots Opticians practice. 

National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas, said:

“Too many children are held back by undiagnosed eyesight issues which impact on their literacy. Our ground-breaking new partnership with Boots Opticians takes an integrated approach to tackling this issue. By working together on policy and campaigning fronts, whilst delivering effective literacy interventions through schools and in communities, we have huge potential to transform outcomes for children, particularly in some of the most deprived areas of the country.”

 Ben Fletcher, Managing Director, Boots Opticians, said:

“Our purpose as a health-led optician is to enrich the life of every person. As part of this, we strongly believe that the optical profession has a big role to play in supporting young people in the UK with their education and literacy - especially those in deprived areas. 80 percent of a child’s learning occurs through sight and an undiagnosed vision problem can affect a child’s ability to concentrate for long periods of time and delay reading development. Through this exciting new partnership with the National Literacy Trust, we will champion regular eye checks for all UK school children in a collaborative approach that supports the enjoyment of children’s education and literacy.”

In year two of the partnership, Boots Opticians colleagues will be trained to work with families as part of our Early Words Together programme, which supports families with pre-school children to improve the home learning environment and develop early language skills.

A policy report will also be published on the link between poor eye care, eye screening in schools and literacy levels.

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The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.