Children’s company commits to agile way of working

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) in Reading has introduced a new agile way of working which puts staff wellbeing at the heart of the organisation.

The company which provides early help, education and children’s services in the busy Berkshire town has made a commitment to allow staff to choose when, where and how they work, in accordance with their roles.

Agile working allows individuals to decide whether they base themselves in the company’s town centre office Monday to Friday, work mostly from home or set themselves up in a café or other location a couple of days a week.

Senior leaders at BFfC supported the move to more flexible working arrangements after seeing how successfully staff had adapted to providing vital services to families in Reading throughout the pandemic.

The company’s agile working statement of commitment says staff are trusted to deliver, perform and contribute to the highest standards and that flexibility is the norm and not the exception.

It goes on to say performance will be judged on results rather than presence and people will have the opportunity to lead balanced and healthy lives.

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “Agile working is a win-win for everyone as it allows staff to work in a way which suits them and enables them to perform their best for the company, and ultimately for the children and young people of Reading.

“Spending time and money sitting in traffic or standing in a train carriage during peak travel times makes no sense when work can be carried out just as effectively elsewhere or at a different time of day. Agile working also underpins our commitment to inclusion and reduces our impact on the environment.

“Of course, some roles are more suited to agile working than others, but we believe a flexible approach will help create more motivated and productive teams and individuals to deliver the best possible services to Reading’s children and young people.”

Agile Working was introduced following a pilot in which 93% of BFfC staff involved said they would like to continue working from home after lockdown, and 83% said it provided them with greater flexibility and freedom of choice.

Brighter Futures for Children, a not-for-profit company, wholly owned by, but independent of, Reading Borough Council, came out of government intervention in February following continued improvements to its services.

Find out more about Brighter Futures for Children and career opportunities at:

Celebrating the contribution of Reading’s young carers

The incredible work of young carers in Reading will be celebrated by Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) on Young Carers Action Day tomorrow (Tuesday 16 March).

It has been a particularly difficult year for young carers because of the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in less social interaction with friends and family.

BFfC’s youth workers have been holding a weekly virtual youth club for young carers throughout the year and are holding a special session tomorrow.

Young people with caring responsibilities make a vital contribution to their family and the local community all year round but also need access to help and support themselves.

The weekly virtual sessions held by BFfC’s targeted youth worker team give young carers a chance to stay in touch with their peers and speak to members of the team about any concerns they have. They can also share their thoughts and feelings or just talk about what is going on in their lives.

Youth workers have also been contacting parents throughout the year to offer a listening ear and signpost to support where needed, including the offer of food parcels during the school holidays.

The team are sending out party packs to the young carers who take part in the virtual weekly sessions to hold a special get-together for Young Carers Action Day. These will include festival items, such as glow sticks and bunting, a drawing pad and game.

They will also receive Just Eat gift vouchers to allow them to have something to eat while taking part in a quiz and other fun activities during the session.

Blank cards and envelopes will also be sent out to give young people the chance to write down their thoughts and feelings around what it is like being a young carer and how the last year has been different for them. They can then be sent to the youth workers.

Deborah Glassbrook, Director of Children’s Services in Reading, said: “Our wonderful young carers make an amazing contribution to their families and the community. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all.

“The last year has been a difficult one for all children and even more so for young people with caring responsibilities who have been unable to get out and meet friends and other family members during lockdown.

“Young Carers Action Day is an opportunity to mark the incredible work of young carers but our youth workers are there to support them all year round.”

The Targeted Youth Team can be contacted by phone on 0118 937 6545 or email to

More information about the youth service, support for young carers, mental health advice and much more can be found on the Young People Zone on the Brighter Futures for Children website at:

Share a story for World Book Day 2021

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) is aiming to create a virtual bookshelf for Reading’s children and its Board Chair will be reading one of the amazing stories recommended for World Book Day on Thursday, 4 March.

BFfC Board Chair Di Smith will be reading Doughnuts for a Dragon, by Adam and Charlotte Guillain and illustrated by Lee Wildish, which will be available to watch on its website on World Book Day.

This year’s theme for World Book Day is ‘Share a story’ and we are encouraging schools and families across Reading to take part.

The annual event is a worldwide celebration of books and storytelling and aims to promote reading for pleasure among children and young people.

We have suggested to schools that they encourage pupils to record a short video clip sharing the title of the book they like the most, showing their favourite page and talking about why they enjoy it so much.

They can post the videos on school websites or social media which BFfC can then share on its social media channels. The suggestions will also be used to start building up a virtual bookshelf of Reading children’s favourite stories.

As part of our bid to get Reading reading we will also be promoting World Book Day throughout the week on social media: @BFfC_Child on Twitter, @readingyoungpeople on Instagram and @BFfCChild on Facebook.

Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, Director of Education at Brighter Futures for Children, said: “Reading books is a great joy and World Book Day is a brilliant way to engage children and young people in this activity.

“Even very young children can be introduced to the pleasure of reading by having a wonderful story read to them.  I look forward to seeing video clips from children talking about their favourite books.

“There are a huge range of resources for children of all ages on the World Book Day website with lots of ideas for fun, free and easy ways to take part.”

Reading Library Service will also be participating in World Book Day with a £1 book token being given to every child who borrows a book during March from Central, Caversham and Tilehurst libraries (while stocks last). They can be swapped for one of the £1 titles available from participating bookstores when they reopen or used against any full price book or audiobook.

A specially commissioned ‘story hunt’ from local storyteller John Kirk will also be available online with a medieval themed tale featuring Reading Abbey, in recognition of the abbey’s 900th anniversary this year.

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said: “World Book Day is a great opportunity for children and young people of all ages to come together and celebrate the joy of reading for pleasure.

“Academic studies have shown that spending just 10 minutes per day reading and sharing stories with children can make a crucial difference to their future success, and it’s fun for everyone. This is most definitely something I have discovered with my own children in the last couple of years.

“I’m sure we all have fond memories of a book we read as child and World Book Day gives children the opportunity to have a book of their own. Why not visit the website for inspiration, visit a Reading library and get reading.”

For more information on World Book Day, including free online events and activities visit:

To join a Reading library and find out about opening arrangements during lockdown visit:

The video of Di Smith, Brighter Futures for Children’s Board Chair, reading Doughnuts for a Dragon, by Adam and Charlotte Guillain and illustrated by Lee Wildish, will be on this page of the company’s website on Thursday.

A place for every Reading secondary school student

Ninety-three per cent of Reading students have been offered a place in one of their preferred secondary schools this year.

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) has ensured that every secondary school pupil in Reading has a place for September despite fierce competition.

The percentage who received their first or second preference is 84% compared with 85% last year and 90% were offered their first, second or third choice compared with 91% last year.

There was a decrease in the percentage of pupils offered their first preference from 73% to 67%. This was mainly due to grammar school admissions tests being postponed because of the pandemic and the results not being published until after the normal deadline for submitting secondary school applications.

The percentage of students not allocated any of their preferences remained at seven per cent.

Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, Director of Education at BFfC, said: “We have been working closely with secondary schools in Reading to ensure every student has a place on National Offer Day and a high percentage will be going to one of their preferred schools.

“We continue to work with Reading Borough Council, academy trusts, neighbouring authorities and the Department for Education to provide more school places to meet demand in the coming years, including the new River Academy secondary school in Reading.

“I would like to thank our secondary schools for helping us to accommodate all Reading students this year and I wish every pupil all the very best in their new school.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Reading’s wonderful schools for the amazing work they have done for their pupils and students under such challenging circumstances throughout the pandemic.”

The percentage of pupils allocated to school outside Reading was 28% this year compared with 29% last year.




Launch of first Reading Youth Council virtual conference

The Reading Youth Council (RYC) Conference has been launched with the aim of reaching as many young people in the borough as possible.

There will be lots of discussion about important issues such as the environment, knife crime and mental health but this year there is a difference.

With the support of Brighter Futures for Children, the event will be entirely online and interactive and young people will be able to take part any time over the next three weeks.

The keynote speaker for the first ever virtual RYC conference is Deborah Glassbrook, Reading’s Director of Children’s Services, and there are videos from young people talking about subjects the RYC has campaigned on this year.

Participants are invited to watch the videos, read presentations, answer questions and give their opinions on the issues raised, including how they have coped with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young people who complete the content will be invited to enter a prize draw with the chance of winning vouchers for the Escape Room, Reading Climbing Centre and Caversham Lakes Activity Centre.

The virtual conference has been promoted to schools in Reading and a day’s activity prize for up to 30 students will be presented to the school with the most overall participants.

The event is also being promoted on Brighter Futures for Children’s social media channels over the next three weeks: @BFfC_Child on twitter, @readingyoungpeople on Instagram and @BFfCChild on Facebook.

Deborah Glassbrook, Director of Children’s Services, said: “The last 12 months have been so difficult for young people, with their school work being disrupted, being unable to meet up with friends, play sport or take part in social activities.

“The virtual Reading Youth Council Conference gives our wonderful young people the opportunity to give their views about mental health issues and other key topics, such as the environment.

“The RYC does a fantastic job campaigning on behalf of young people and I am delighted to have been asked to speak in their first ever online annual conference and I hope as many young people take part as possible.”

The RYC is a group of elected representatives who campaign on issues that matter to young people in Reading. You can find out more about the group and lots of activities and resources in the Young People’s Zone on the Brighter Futures for Children website.

Young people can take part in the Reading Youth Council online conference until 19 March by visiting: