Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. But despite some improvements in literacy and GCSE attainment over recent years, we face significant current and future issues:

  • Only 1 in 2 of our children are deemed ‘school ready’ at the age of 5 (able to listen to stories, use the toilet, dress themselves, starting to read, write and do basic sums)[1] 
  • Around 1 in 4 people earning less than £10,000 are not functionally literate[2] 
  • Around 4 in 5 adults have a low level of numeracy - roughly defined as the adult skills equivalent of being below GCSE grade C level[3] 
  • 1 in 5 (19%) of those unemployed feel held back by maths when job-hunting.[4]

Literacy, numeracy, poverty and inequality are all intrinsically linked. They cost us in terms of opportunity, wasted talent and additional training needed when employees do reach the workforce.


Education, employment, and a skilled workforce are inextricably linked. Educated citizenry, armed with the skills to perform in the technology-driven and service-based economy of tomorrow, are at the centre of a strong global economy. That is why globally United Way has put emphasis on the following education focus areas:

  • school readiness
  • early grade reading proficiency
  • successful transition from primary to secondary school
  • secondary school completion
  • and post-secondary success


We want to give every child in the UK the same chance to succeed.

In London and Liverpool, we are leading this with the United Way Reading Oasis, an early childhood literacy initiative aimed at children in disadvantaged communities. Available to schools with 30% or more children on free school meals, the United Way Reading Oasis gives every child the opportunity to love reading. It will improve the reading levels of primary school-aged children, positively affecting their ability to learn throughout school, and beyond. Designed in collaboration with primary school teachers and children, it is all a school needs to give every child the space and books to enjoy reading; and the information their parents and carers need to encourage reading at home.

It includes:
- Hundreds of brand new books from Scholastic UK publishing, chosen specifically to encourage reading across all interests, ages and abilities
- Bookshelves to house the books and display them in a way that will encourage the children to pick them up
- A warm and inviting space for the children to read alone or to one another, with a big alphabet rug and beanbag chairs
- Monthly tools and tips for parents and carers shared in a newsletter, email or text - depending on the schools’ preference
- Access to an interactive website with competitions, games and links to read even more books online

In its pilot year, Reading Oasis provided more than 2500 children in eight schools with brand new books and a safe, inviting space to further their love of reading.

In Liverpool, we are leading this with Positive about Play, an exciting programme which engages with children and families during the school holidays, when many struggle for support. Through Positive about Play we are able not just to provide activities for children but to support healthy eating for families and access to other support services to help the whole family be part of their community. In partnership with other local organisations, we provide vital out of school provision for children in safe, group environments. Playschemes vary in their shape and size, in where they take place and who runs them, but every playscheme has, at its heart, the commitment to proving children with the chance to play, explore and learn together (with adult support when needed).  

Play, more than any other activity, fuels healthy development of young children. In 2013 the Positive about Play supported 60 playschemes and provided free play opportunities to over 2,400 children from across Liverpool. 



We are actively seeking charities, businesses and individuals who already work or want to work to make a difference in education on a local or national level. If this is you, please do get in touch.