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Rotary Club of Paignton  - Global Grant Literacy Project

The Rotary Clubs of Paignton and Dokkum Global Grant - Hero Project. The Rotary Club of Paignton in partnership with the Rotary Club of Dokkum (the Netherlands) has successfully initiated a £40,000 Literacy Project with Torbay School.

Building on the success of of several literacy projects with three local primary schools, the Rotary club of Paignton working with its long term partner in the Netherlands, the Rotary Club of Dokkum, has joined with Torbay School (a four centre special school) in a unique literacy project at  secondary level - the HERO project.

Help Everyone Read OK (HERO) sets out to support those in our local community with the most pressing literacy needs by using specialised training, a comprehensive one-to-one teaching strategy and most innovative software.

The  Literacy trust reports that one person in six lives with poor literacy in the United  Kingdom.This holds them back at every stage of life and prevents people leading successful and fulfilled lives. The basic concept of our Literacy ‘Hero’ project is that the Rotary  Clubs of  Paignton and Dokkum, who have been Rotary partners for over 50 years, combine with Torbay School to support students aged between 11 and 16 to establish and deliver a programme that will improve and develop literacy skills.  Extra motivation for the pupils will be provided by the involvement of local sporting heroes, such as visits by the coaches and players of Exeter Chiefs which will culminate with a visit to a match when they have completed their literacy programme and achieved their personal goals and objectives.

The global Grant is comes from Rotary International  and is awarded when two or more clubs come together to support community projects.  Rotary International matches monies raised by the Clubs.   In this case, the grant to support our work is £41000.


In 2015 we were able to access a Rotary Fund and give considerable support to THRIVE at the Devon Studio School

Dear Mr. Kings, Rotary  Club President,

I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest thanks for your donation towards THRIVE at Devon Studio School. Please pass on our thanks to all your members for their support.

THRIVE helps to prepare children and young people for  life’s emotional ups and downs. The approach aims to develop children’s se;f assurance and ready them for life and learning. It is an integrated approach which pulls together work from different disciplines to provide one model that is systematic, dynamic and relevant and helps adults respond to a child’s emotional and social development.

With your generosity, we will be able to create a learning environment for THRIVE students in which they will be able to develop flourish.  We, as a school, are incredibly grateful for your generous support and we would like to thank you again for your thoughtful gift.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Katherine Davis Wills

School Principle


The Rotary Club of the British Isles has a commitment to improve standards of literacy as one of its foundation principles. Generally this has been expressed through literacy projects based in the undeveloped world. However, it is now nationally recognised that we have a serious problem within the United Kingdom, with perhaps as many as 20% of our young people leaving school at 16 being functionally illiterate. Torbay is no different than the rest of the country and the Rotary Club of Paignton has devised a literacy project that aims to drastically lower and in the future eliminate almost completely the number of pupils in our local primary schools who leave for secondary school at age 11 unable to read effectively.

After consultation with local head teachers and Torbay local authority two pilot projects have been carried out at Kings Ash Primary School. The project has had the full support of Kings Ash Primary School head teacher, Tracey Jones. An eight week literacy programme entitled ‘Ready, Steady, Read with Rotary’ has been devised and implemented in two pilot periods by our reading consultant. Four girls and four boys who were seriously lagging behind the majority of their peers, have received the intensive literacy improvement programme. The results have been highly impressive. All the eight children have significantly improved their standard of literacy and three are now at the national average for their age group. A far more detailed analysis of the successful progress made by the children has been carried out.

A serious problem for primary schools with significant numbers of young people with low literacy skills is the cost of a remedial programme. All research has indicated that only intensive one to one support over a relatively short and structured period of time can make real progress. ‘Ready, Steady, Read with Rotary’ has been fully funded by Paignton Rotary Club. The cost of the two pilot sessions too date is: £ 2724.20 or £340.52 per pupil.  This includes the production of resources and the employment of our literacy consultant.This represents excellent value for money.

The project will continue next academic year at Kings Ash Primary School. It has been agreed that sixteen pupils will receive the programme in two sessions during 2012/13. Funding will be met jointly by Paignton Rotary Club and Kings Ash Primary school. Resource packs will be produced and training offered for the new consultant who will join the project therefore ensuring continuity and consistency.

Paignton Rotary Club intends to enter into discussion with Torbay Council and other primary schools with a view to potentially expanding the project into another school during 2012/13. Paignton Rotary Club has already committed funds for 2012/13 and is actively seeking to bid for grants within the Rotary District Foundation to fund an expansion of the project. We would also like to consider bidding for funding for 2013/14 from the Education Endowment Foundation in partnership with Torbay Council and our two local MPs (Adrian Sanders and Dr. Sarah Wollaston) both of whom have indicated provisional support for such a project.

Our project has proven to be successful at raising standards, is highly cost effective and will be simple to administer and evaluate.

Computers for Chestnut School

Together with Rotary District we have teamed up with the Chestnut Alternative Provision School to provide three laptop computers to help the children of the school make progress with their literacy and numeracy. The school moved into the buildings of Chestnut Primary School in August this year.   Members of the club have paid several visits to the school during the autumn and have been impressed with the commitment and dedication of the staff to helping the young people in their care and were determined to help where they could.  The club therefore purchased over a £1000 worth of computers and software for use within the classroom. Class teacher Carrie Dudley expressed her gratitude to the club explaining that the computers would be put to immediate use helping the young people in her care learn in an inter active and hands on way. 


In 2013 Paignton Rotary sponsored a local student to attend this course.  Her report is below.

My Fantastic Experience of RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) at Okehampton Adventures

                                by Laura Schubert

In July I was so lucky as to participate in the RYLA course at Okehampton Adventures. I loved the course as I made lots of new friends and thoroughly enjoyed the activities, which stretched and challenged me, and I also learnt and experienced a lot about what it takes to be a young leader.

When I heard about the RYLA course, I immediately stepped up to apply and am so happy and grateful that I was given the opportunity to become a participant! It was a week pact full of team work, including both physical, social and mental activities (i.e. shelter building, a hike, quizzes, presentations, abseiling and communal kitchen duty.)

One of my favourite tasks was the ‘two minute talks’ where each person was given a random topic (e.g. roads, war, music or letter writing) one minute before they  had to stand in front of the group and in order to try to talk about this topic for 2 minutes! Being put on the spot, and presenting in front of 40 other people gets the heart racing, and remaining calm and keeping a logical and extended thought process revolving around the topic is a skill that is vital for leadership and I believe-should be practised by all.

I loved the outdoor activities (especially canoeing up and down the Exe Canal and River and the mountain biking) which we did mainly in or teams, adding a fun but competitive nature to the whole course. Each day a different person was allocated the role of ‘team leader’ which encouraged everyone to take up responsibility, and for me in particular was a great experience, as it involved organising and motivating everyone in my team on the day of Dartmoor up responsibility, and for in in particular was a fun expeince, as it involved organising andhike and night shelter build.

The morning talks on topics such as Communication, Dartmoor, and Shelterbox were inspirational and informative, giving an insight into some of the things that Rotary does and how we as individuals interact, and can further become involved with the world around us.

The best thing of all was to see how a group of 35 teenagers could become so close so quickly and how we were all so supportive towards each other. I believe that RYLA has given me a better understanding of myself, my strengths and weaknesses, and unforgettably fun experience. I would like to say a huge thank you to my sponsors, Paignton Rotary Club, and Okehampton Rotary for organising it, and have already recommended the course to many friends for next year.  


My team on our Dartmoor Challenge Hike in front of Meldon Dam

The Rotary Club of Paignton Literacy Support  Scheme Further Information

The most basic skills that an adult needs to function independently in a modern society are the ability to read and write effectively. We all need to be functionally literate. Without doubt the majority of us are. Over 80% of the adult population have well developed literacy skills. However, turn that figure on its head. The exact percentage can be debated but it is generally agreed that between 15 and 20% of young people leave school at sixteen functionally illiterate. Put another way; one in five of our young people are not adequately equipped to face the modern world and therefore are seriously hindered from being successful in it.

The majority of pupils who leave school functionally illiterate at sixteen were also far behind the majority of their peers at the ages of seven and eleven. Surely therefore we need to target the children who are behind with literacy between ages five to seven and give them intensive one to one support to raise them to a level where they can manage as independent learners within the classroom. Although teachers and schools know what the solution is they do not have the resources to do this alone.

This is what our project seeks to do. We have a literacy programme developed by an expert primary school teacher that concentrates on each child being given 40 consecutive, 30 minute one to one catch up sessions by a literacy consultant.

Progress is carefully recorded  and afterwards the child returns full time to the classroom where they are able to cope more effectively. Obviously they need to be monitored carefully and further catch up may be needed. Parents have been closely involved and the vast majority have taken great delight in the improvement that the project has brought to their child's enjoyment and success at school.

So far over 50 children have benefited from the programme with over 75% making significant progress. During this winter term another 16 children have been taken through the same literacy intervention process before returning to the classroom with their literacy skills considerably enhanced. The programme is continuing in January 2014 with another school joining the scheme making 3 altogether in Torbay supporting 20 young people. The Rotary Club of Crediton have also adopted our scheme and will begin to implement a version of it within one school for 4 pupils in January 2014.

The project has been devised, financed and led by the Rotary Club of Paignton and has utilised the support of head teachers, teachers and classroom assistants. Rotary District supported the project through a grant of £2500.  It is non bureaucratic, clear in its vision, secure in its aims and highly cost effective.  It is a bottom up initiative arising from a voluntary organisation wanting to help solve society's problems working with our school leaders on a one item agenda. It is dedicated to eliminating a problem that has stubbornly refused to disappear during the last fifty years. The cost of the programme is approximately £450 per child. We estimate that in any one year in Torbay there are at least 200 children who would benefit from our support. Our ultimate aim is to eliminate functional illiteracy for all of Torbay's children within a decade.