The National Literacy Trust (NLT) has partnered with Boots Opticians with the aim of improving the literacy of the UK’s most disadvantaged children.
The partnership, which is motivated by a potential correlation between a child’s vision and literacy, was launched at the Boots Opticians Annual Conference.
The venture 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 fundraising through book sales and there will be a fundraising tin in every Boots Opticians practice.
NLT 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, added: “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 the NLT’s Early Words Together programme, which is designed to support 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.