COUNTY Hall bosses have been described as "champions of children" after celebrating the success of a countywide £1 million reading campaign.

Launched in 2022, the Essex Year of Reading aimed to help every child in Essex become a confident reader, with skills at or above their age level.

The campaign's legacy continued with the council hosting a conference attended by more than 170 education professionals.

Martin Galway, head of school programmes at the National Literacy Trust, said: "As Essex County Council continues to champion literacy as a driver of social mobility and positive life outcomes, we are very grateful they offered to host National Literacy Trust’s first in person primary school conference.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Educational - Children taking part in the Essex Year of Reading Image: Essex County CouncilEducational - Children taking part in the Essex Year of Reading Image: Essex County Council (Image: Essex County Council)

"The conference provided an opportunity to demonstrate positive and reciprocal relationships, within and across schools, libraries and communities, are the driving force of improved literacy and life outcomes."

At the conference, renowned Scottish children's author, Elle McNicoll provided insight into her collaborative approach to publishing.

She discussed how this strategy drives better representation within children's literature.

Similarly, government advisor and pupil premium expert Marc Rowland presented the Essex Disadvantage Strategy at the conference.

Clare Kershaw, director of education at Essex County Council, said: "Here in Essex, we champion children to get the best start in life.

"Whether that’s through the Essex Disadvantage Strategy as presented by Mark Rowland at the conference, our comprehensive inclusion strategy that supports children no matter their background to reach their full potential, or our model for collaboration, both across council services and with external partners.

"Essex County Council is a champion for children."

The future of education in Essex also promises a focus on numeracy with the launch of a new campaign, the Essex Year of Numbers.

This programme seeks to inspire a love of learning, with special emphasis placed on strengthening the mathematical skills of children aged up to 18.

The campaign features a variety of fun events designed to give every child's maths skills a magic boost.

For more details on the initiatives, visit the Essex Year of Numbers website at