Council offers free literacy software to all Midlothian families

Monday October 30th 2023

Midlothian Council Read Write in schools

from left to right at the back: Texthelp Group’s Head of Education Paddy McGrath, Digital Inclusion and Learning Quality Improvement Officer Susan Ward and Newbattle Community High School Head Teacher Gib McMillan.In front, from left to right, are: Harry Gately of St Andrew’s Primary, Cabinet Member for Education Councillor Ellen Scott and Gorebridge Primary pupil Louis Scott.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Families across Midlothian will be able to download literacy support software to their own devices for free thanks to a world-first partnership between Midlothian Council and digital software supplier, Texthelp.

Read&Write helps with everyday tasks like reading text out loud, understanding unfamiliar words, researching assignments and proofing written work. These tools are essential for some learners and useful for all.

At a special launch of the Free for Families initiative in Newbattle Community High School, the council unveiled a video featuring young people and teachers talking about what Read&Write means to them.

Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Ellen Scott said: “This Read&Write initiative will give all families the opportunity to benefit from this life-changing free software, as well as supporting children who may need extra help, if for example they are dyslexic.

“The software allows our pupils to put into words their inner talents by helping to extend their vocabulary, write more complex sentences and longer stories, and assists our teachers to challenge and support each student effectively.”

St Andrew’s Primary P7 pupil Harry Gately, 11, is one of thousands of pupils across Midlothian benefiting from Read&Write. Harry, who is dyslexic, says he uses it mainly for writing. The software translates his spoken word into written text. He says: “It saves me a lot of time and boosts my confidence.”

Eleven-year-old Louis Scott, who is in P7 at Gorebridge Primary, is another fan. He said Read&Write helps him find the “right word” and expands his vocabulary. “I also use it to check my spelling,” he says.

Supporting children, young people and staff to make best use of Read&Write in Midlothian has resulted in:

– 90.7% of all teachers and pupils regularly using Read&Write
– A 529% increase in Read&Write use in the last twelve months
– A 90% reduction in the number of referrals for assistive technology
– Positive acknowledgment in two recent school inspection reports of the impact 1:1 devices and Read&Write has had in providing effective learning, teaching and assessment

Martin McKay, Texthelp’s Founder and CEO said: “For the last 25 years we have been creating software that supports millions of people around the world to understand and be understood. Hearing the inspiring stories of how teachers and students in Midlothian are using our literacy tool, Read&Write shows us that we’re making a real difference.

“We have big goals and want to reach a lot more people. We’re delighted to be able to work with Midlothian Council to offer Read&Write Free for families, promoting inclusion in the local community and helping us towards our vision of advancing the literacy of 1 billion people by 2030.”

Schools will be contacting families directly by the end of November about how to access the free software.

The initiative is part of the council’s £10.5 million Equipped for Learning Project which provides every Midlothian pupils with a free digital device such as an IPad or Google Chromebook.

View the video case studies below


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