Dorothy Koomson,whose best selling books include My Best Friend’s Girl and The Ice Cream Girls, was the guest of honour at Uxbridge College’s Reading Ahead 2018 awards. This is a national challenge which is run by The Reading Agency, which is supported with funding from Arts Council England and is the leading charity inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to read for pleasure and empowerment. Working with partners, their aim is to make reading
accessible to everyone. Reading Ahead, run through public libraries, colleges, prisons and workplaces, is one of a number of initiatives run by the charity to support this aim.
A total of 900 students took part in the challenge across the college this year including 350 ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students based at Hayes as well as Functional Skills students from Uxbridge campus.
Reading material included topical articles about the death of Stephen Hawking in March and his lasting legacy, the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as well as The Journey by Francesca Sanna, a book based on interviews with refugees and echoing the journeys of a number of Uxbridge College students.
Shelley Cawley, Learning Resources Manager, who co-ordinated Reading Ahead this year at the College, said : It was amazing to have a bestselling author like Dorothy Koomson at the award ceremonies – she was a real inspiration and a great role model in so many ways. This year Uxbridge College has supported the highest number of students yet to complete the challenge. This is a huge achievement as most ESOL learners were unable to speak, read or write English at the start of their courses.
Genevieve Clarke from the Reading Agency said : We are delighted that Uxbridge College continues to have such success with our Reading Ahead programme. We know that it is particularly valued by ESOL learners for whom reading is an ideal pathway to increased vocabulary and comprehension skills.
This year the challenge has focused on supporting English language skills for ESOL learners and others who needed support in this area and included students completing some of their reviews in a timed exercise in class to help them prepare for their exams.
Special Award winners were : First completer : Shrilekshmi Suja Six reviews in Six Days Winner : Sabrina Akter Rima Best Reviews Overall : Murtaza Ahmadi and Best Review : Mohamed Abouelhana.