Renaisi is working with The Reading Agency on a number of projects to explore the impact of reading.

The Reading Agency is a national charity working to tackle big life challenges, including loneliness, through the proven power of reading. They offer a range of programmes and initiatives targeted at different age groups encouraging people to read more.

Our work with The Reading Agency

Testing the Reading Outcomes Framework Toolkit

The Reading Agency partnered with other organisations in the sector to develop the Reading Outcomes Framework Toolkit.  This aims to articulate more clearly the difference reading for pleasure and empowerment can make to people’s lives and provide a practical guide for practitioners, organisations and groups to understand the impact of their work.

Renaisi was commissioned to test the framework in five different areas, helping them to choose what to evaluate, the appropriate methods to use, and analyse their findings. Our report made recommendations for The Reading Agency to further develop the framework in the future to continue to support evaluation practices across the sector.

Evaluation of Reading Friends

Renaisi started working with The Reading Agency in 2016 at the start of their ambitious new programme – Reading Friends, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund’s Accelerating Ideas Ageing Society fund. Reading Friends is a UK-wide befriending programme delivered by volunteers, focussing on vulnerable older people and using reading to start conversations.

Between 2017-2019, Renaisi evaluated the ‘test’ and ‘pilot’ phases of the programme. The Reading Friends model is deeply rooted in co-production and delivered across a range of settings – from homes to libraries, prisons and schools.

Our evaluation approach reflected this, and we partnered with the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) to run a series of co-production workshops with older people where we developed evaluation tools that can be used in different contexts. These include:

  • Bespoke surveys for older people and volunteers that use asset based language that avoids any risk of upsetting participants
  • Fieldwork visits to the sites engaging with staff, volunteers and participants to understand the different ways the programme is being delivered
  • Training Evaluation Champions who have been encouraging their peers to reflect on their Reading Friends experience

Learning from the evaluation has directly influenced the design of the next phase of the programme.

In 2019-20 Renaisi will be evaluating the final rollout phase of Reading Friends, and making recommendations on how to sustain and replicate the programme in the future.

Summer Reading Challenge evaluation

The Summer Reading Challenge is The Reading Agency’s flagship programme that encourages children aged 4 to 11 to read six library books during the summer holiday. The Challenge celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019.

Renaisi has been commissioned to evaluate the Challenge in 2020 – focussing on children at schools in more deprived areas, and looking at the impact of The Challenge on the ‘summer slide’ in reading that many can experience over the holidays.

We will be analysing reading test data for children across 20 schools in England and visiting schools to speak to children, parents and teachers to explore their attitudes towards reading and their experience of The Challenge.

Louisa Thomson