Literacy Improves When Self Esteem Improves

“In times of economic instability, low literacy makes individuals and communities more vulnerable to inequality, increasing the risk of social exclusion” National Literacy Trust.

I spent the last year following the progress of 11 and 12 year olds on the Tribe programme, which teams up Embercombe, a land based residential provider, with South Dartmoor College for Kids who find academic work challenging. On the residential weeks at Embercombe, South Dartmoor College teachers Chris Turley and James Woodward are able to identify different needs each child has. Many of them have low self-esteem and need encouragement not to give up on tasks. When they complete challenges that actually contribute towards running the Embercombe Community (like wood chopping or rabbit skinning) they feel a sense of achievement which builds their confidence. With increased self-esteem literacy levels improve. Their Reading Age progress levels have increased by more than 20 months on one year. Emotional literacy has also gone up, taking them out of the below national average category to average.

What struck me the most was how the environment affected them. Getting the opportunity to sit alone in silence was one kid’s favourite thing about the whole experience and parents also commented on the affect that being at Embercombe was having on their kids: it made them calmer and less agitated. Nature is a perhaps the greatest teacher.

Supported by the Northbrook Community Trust.


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