Thursday, 8 October 2009

Play Talk Read

It was with great interest that I got word of the new parenting campaign launched by the Scottish Government. Mindful Mum had been contacted and offered to come to the launch, and forwarded the invite on to me in case I was free as she was not. I wasn't either but followed it up requesting further information. I'm still waiting. It seems to me that possibly the launch was a media event and they were short of a few mums (and maybe even, just imagine, dads!) for the photoshoot. Or did they really try and target mummy bloggers who could get the message out about this campaign? If so, why didn't anyone get back to me?

Thankfully, I know how to use my eyesight and google. When I came across this picture I thought it may be related to the ominious parenting campaign. So I googled and found out that thi mysterious campaign was launched on 25th September and is called Play Talk Read. You can find the news release, read what the Herald has to say about it, and it's also been featured as a news story on Children in Scotland.

And the campaign even has a fabulous website, where parents can get bucket loads of advice, information. More than that, if you sign up, you can find local activities for your child, a forum to ask questions, you can find parents near you and even submit ideas for activities with young children. All good stuff, and really something that us Scottish Mummy/Daddy Bloggers should blog about to spread the message. In fact, check it out whereever you are, you don't even have to live in Scotland to get some good ideas from this great resource.

What I'm a bit worried about is that as with similar initiatives to get parents to read with their kids, it assumes parental literacy and access to the internet. Have another look at the advert that decorates Scottish billboards: great image, sharp message - but to find out more you need to search online for "playtalkread". Honestly, who is going to be bothered to do this unless they have a specific interest in this?
The message, though, is a really important one. To give your child the best start in life, play with him/her, talk to him/her, read to him/her. Simple but it makes a massive difference. It's the recipe to tackling inequalities in education and in later life, the recipe to transform society, no less, to make it a more equal and more just society.
Yet my worry is that an advertising campaign (only 14% of people take in advertising and act upon it) and a fancy website will contribute to further increasing the divide, a divide which is increasingly a digital one. I've blogged about this before. If you want to improve educational outcomes/experiences and life chances for children growing up in poverty and disadvantaged communities (and let's be clear, this is what this campaign is about) you need to consider access. Or rather lack thereof. Because many parents don't have the dosh to have broadband access, a computer, even a landline or a bank account needed to get a phone line. That's what poverty means in reality. Add to that parents who themselves didn't have a positive experience of education, may not have great literacy and who will certainly struggle with a very text heavy internet site.
So, just like bookstart, bounce and rhyme and rhyme time, I fear it'll be only those mums who'd be reading to their kids anyway who turn up at sessions, or use this lovely website.


Mwa said...

A good friend of mine works for a children's theater company. They go into schools where there is a lot of illiteracy and read to the children. They invite the parents and read with them. Then they send out books and even do house calls. They try to reach everyone, from all backgrounds. Internet wouldn't reach many of these people indeed.

Irish Mammy said...

Great initiative if it is rolled out right - the sad fact is that too many kids are already overweight - eating the wrong foods!!

By the way do you intend to do a post for single mums in Glasgow? I have a friend there with a 6 month old and would love to send her some information. If you don't intend to do this post and know some great resources (I value your opinion) please email me on

Irish Mammy said...

Award for you at my place!

cartside said...

Mwa, I think house calls and this positive relationship with primary schools really are good examples. We're working on something like this. It's just very staff intensive and often those initiatives only last for a few months.

Irish Mammy, have emailed you. sorry it took a while, been travelling.

Mindful Mum said...

Hi there, I signed up to the website and am still waiting for my free gift. I agree with you that it seems to be the Mums who are already reading to their children that can take full advantage of this campaign and the website.

However, as a new Mum in the south side community I do see positive things happening around me - things which are more inclusive. My friend is a community worker in the South Side of Glasgow where she is involved in providing mother and baby classes at reduced prices. So where I spend £3.50 for a 'dance your socks' off class, other Mum's can get it for £0.50. I think these classes are so valuable for meeting other Mums and quite often it helps me to try out new things with my little one.

Anonymous said...

The campaing started for Families in Boston U.S.A where the digital divide is not that big. It is called Visit and see what is offered. Thank you to the visitors from Glasgow for sharing the idea but give credit next time.

cartside said...

Anonymous, I reported the campaign which is a Scottish Government campaign. I didn't know that it was based on a similar initiative in the US and my intention would never be not to credit something. So thank your for pointing it out, and just to let you know that I would have credited had I known about this Boston campaign at the time of writing.

Anonymous said...

The URL to the campaign has now moved to and has been relaunched.

Many thanks!



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