Project information

TextNow Programme

TextNow is a unique reading programme; focused around motivation and developed for 13-19 year olds, where there is a significant gap in provision and a real crisis in the literacy levels/under achievement of older teenagers. Reading material develops both enjoyment and reading skills.

September 2011 - March 2012

Charity information: Unitas

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  • Need


    TextNow works with a variety of young people including those with Special Educational Needs and low educational attainment. There are approximately 400,000 young people in England and Wales at risk of becoming detached from mainstream education and training, either through exclusion, non attendance, or due to periods spent in custody. Many have failed to engage fully with education and the curriculum. Marginalised young people can be very difficult to re-engage in learning.


    The model entails a structured programme of daily 20-minute reading sessions each weekday for 10 weeks supported by trained coaches, a small library and an achievements awards scheme. This regular and focused one-to-one support allows the coaches, drawn from within an institution but also peers and external volunteers, to build up a rapport with the young person and stimulates their enjoyment of reading.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To motivate at risk young people to be more willing and proficient readers.


    » Run daily 20-minute reading sessions each weekday for 10 weeks supported by trained coaches, a small library and an awards scheme.

    What success will look like

    Success will be measured in improvements in reading age; increased participation, improved confidence in reading and other measures e.g. increased engagement in reading.

    Aim 2

    To develop the role of peer mentors/coaches


    » Recruit and train coaches and peer mentors
    » Develop an online infrastructure which includes: training, reviews, online purchase of books, feedback and performance monitoring.

    What success will look like

    Success will be the number of young people recruited, trained and volunteering as peer mentors/coaches and reporting greater confidence in their own communication skills.

  • Impact


    Reading is vital, not just in terms of its link to educational achievement but also in giving people the ability to interact with the world of ideas, and on a more basic level, navigate through life. Long term change will be in improved reading skills, greater confidence and raised ambitions; demonstrated by young people's views of themselves before and after TextNow. This is currently paper-based but we are developing online facilities to get an even greater response from young people.


    The TextNow methodology is established and proven. The principal risk is restricted funding to invest in development of the online infrastructure, and marketing activities. Once addressed, the project can be upscaled.


    We produce an Annual Report, which includes Service User feedback and case studies. Results of an independent evaluation of the overarching TextNow programme will also be made available.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £163,769

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £87,900 Mgt and infrasturcure inc. salaries, online infrastructure
      £17,200 Administration including support and co-ordination
      £13,500 Diaries Young Person's and Coaches diaries
      £8,375 Online Training and Libraries In various establishments
      £14,924 Promotion Promotion of TextNow
      £21,870 Evaluation Inc. data analysis and qualitative inforamtion

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Esmee Fairbairn Foundation £65,250 Guaranteed
    Equitable Charitable Trust £10,000 Guaranteed
    Coutts Charitable Trust £500 Guaranteed
    The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust £1,000 Guaranteed
    The Dulverton Trust £29,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project will take place nationally, in various establishments including schools and looked after children's teams. We have worked with a range of organisations across England and Wales - in addition to schools we have worked with youth offending teams, young offending institutions, pupil referral units.


    Underachieving Young People from schools, typically in areas of economic deprivation.
    Coaches and Peer Mentors drawn from similar areas
    External volunteers, drawn from a wide range of backgrounds.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Unitas has brought together a team which crosses the boundaries of arts, education and youth justice. Unitas operates with a small core team of full time staff, and with freelance workers who contribute varied skills and experience to the team. We are dynamic and innovative; the Unitas model allows us to scale up programmes quickly, working with a range of service delivery partners, and through use of online resources can roll out to a large number of sites, offering a value for money programme.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Martin Stephenson

    Executive Director of Unitas, has extensive experience in education, youth justice and social care.