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The Growth Of Awareness Of Adult Illiteracy In Britain

An important part of the A.L.U. application is the considerable attention to be given to evaluation of progress at the end of the first and second years of operation.  The results will be published and made available to others working in the same field,

Another possible route for expansion is outside London.  It has already been suggested that the organisation becomes national but this is something that will take years not months to achieve.  In the meantime, a group that may benefit from the Rathbone methods are E.S.N. youngsters placed at seaside towns where other social activities especially in winter are hard to find for these young people.  This category may merit more consideration than those in larger urban areas such as Manchester or Glasgow.  In these areas, they are relatively well provided for with literacy classes and other activities.

It may be possible for the Rathbone Clubs’ methods to be applied to the 16 - 19 year old group who are so much under discussion at the present time.  However, the number of disciplines to which the methods can be applied are limited.  The approach hinges on one-to-one tuition by volunteers.  The voluntary nature of the teaching and the basic character of the skills involved are essentially limiting.  However, given that the skill required is basic enough to be readily accessible to the volunteer, it may be possible to apply the method elsewhere (for example numeracy has not been touched on).

All these and other suggestions for possible expansion of the Clubs need to be discussed and advice taken from others with experience in these fields.  In any case, any new tasks can only be undertaken with appropriate finance and support.

The organisers consider it essential to restrict expansion of the clubs while evaluation of the existing organisation is continuing with dissemination of the results of that evaluation.  It is felt essential to ensure that every club is a Rathbone Club not just an ad hoc collection of individuals under a professional supervisor.  The Management Group are currently seeking to conceptualise the Rathbone mode of operation in a more tangible form than it exists at present.  If  this can be achieved by dint of supervisors clarifying in writing their methods and view of Rathbone, it may be possible to correlate these and publish in some form making the “Rathbone method” available to a wider field,

The relationship of the Rathbone Reading Clubs to the wider picture of adult literacy is the final aspect to be considered here.  The clubs are monitored by I.L.E.A. and A.L.R.A. through Cathy Moorhouse, the Language and Literacy Director of I.L.E.A., and in that context the organisers meet people from other statutory and voluntary provision in this field.  The link with Lambeth Borough Amenities Services is also strong through their Special Services Librarian, and use of libraries in the Borough for club venues.  In Southwark, the liaison is with the Southwark Literacy Development Group, and there are other connections such as with the National Federation of U.K.  Voluntary Literacy Schemes.  Mrs. Judith Rose, Rathbone Co-ordinator, is London convenor with that organisation and there are contacts and links with many other organisations as well.

However, the Management Group finds that there is a limited amount of time available for this kind of contact.  Partly the difficulty is a matter of staff limitations, but ultimately It comes to an awareness that one can either do the work required or spend all the time talking about it to other agencies and colleagues.  In that light there is no real decision to be made.

© Amity Reading Clubs and Betty Cooper 1978 to 2002 Page 25 of 51

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