What Katie did next - wrote novels and started a book club

22nd February 2008 at 00:00
A bevy of beauties better known for their looks are adding a touch of glamour to education debates.

First, former Page Three girl Melinda Messenger hit out at the constrictions of early years foundation stage legislation (see below) and revealed that she had moved house so her children could attend a "holistic" Steiner Waldorf school.

"Saying that all children, no matter what situation they are in, are expected to learn to read and write to a certain level by the age of five could actually be very damaging," she told a Sunday newspaper.

Elsewhere in the weekend press, it was revealed that best-selling author Katie Price - formerly topless model Jordan - is launching a book club to lift literacy levels.

Meanwhile, in the US, singer Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas, paid a visit to a New York high school to talk to pupils about HIV and practising safe sex.

Perhaps they are all trying to board the bandwagon of Dolly Parton, the country singer who swapped Nashville for Rotherham last year for the UK launch of her childhood reading scheme, The Imagination Library.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, welcomed the appearance of so many female role models in the education arena, saying that it counterbalanced recent drives to get boys into reading.

A host of famous footballers named their favourite books recently as part of a drive to engage boys in literature, and Richard Madeley, the TV presenter of Richard and Judy Book Club fame, has said that boys need more role models to promote reading.

John Terry, Chelsea's captain, named Michael Morpurgo's children's book Cool! his favourite, while Ryan Giggs, Manchester United striker, opted for Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela.

Top football clubs already run the Premier League Reading Stars scheme with the National Literacy Trust, through which each club adopting a library.

Ms Bousted said: "It's about time girls had a role model. If boys have footballers promoting literacy, why not have glamour models for girls?"

But other commentators were left unconvinced by the influence the models and singers would have.

Dr Bethan Marshall, senior lecturer in English education at King's College London, said: "It's great that these women are speaking out, but I don't think these kind of ladies will have much of an effect on Ed Balls.

"We should welcome the fact that high-profile celebrities believe in the power of education, but it is not without self-interest."

Katie Price's five novels and autobiographical works have been huge hits. Her latest offering is Jordan: Pushed To The Limit. She has been known to outsell the entire Booker Prize shortlist.

Ms Price is also the author of a series of children's books. Her "touch and feel" books for younger children will be out soon.

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