Harrogate literacy start-up launches globally as Pobble

Co-founder Simon Blower, who was formerly deputy headteacher at Grove Road Primary School in Harrogate, in full flow during a literacy session. (S)
Co-founder Simon Blower, who was formerly deputy headteacher at Grove Road Primary School in Harrogate, in full flow during a literacy session. (S)

An online literacy initiative which was started by a group of Harrogate teachers has now been launched internationally as a learning tool and is being used in more than 100 different countries.

Pobble – originally called LendMeYourLiteracy when it first launched in 2012 – began as a simple platform for raising children’s literacy standards and has evolved over the past two years into one of the UK’s most exciting start-ups.

The business scooped a slew of awards, including the People’s Champion Award from Startups.co.uk and the European Business Plan Competition 2015 in Rotterdam.

The company has also just been recognised by and accepted onto the prestigious Microsoft Ventures Accelerator.

The founders, Simon Blower, Henry Smith, Tom Garbutt and Jon Smith, developed an “online classroom wall” in 2012 to allow teachers to share children’s work beyond the confines of their own schools.

As ever more teachers started to showcase their students’ stories and pupils realised they could become published authors, gaining comments and praise for their work, the site quickly gathered pace. The site now hosts more than 40,000 pieces of written work, and users in more than 100 countries.

The entries range from a love story by a 10-year-old boy from Afghanistan that has been viewed more than 9,000 times to the case of shy, dyslexic six-year-old called Fred, who used to hate written work until he won a LendMeYourLiteracy writing competition.

Pobble co-founder and chief executive Jon Smith said: “From the first pieces of work that were shared by a class in Harrogate, to the new stories being added every few minutes around the world, the impact on children and teachers is the same.

“For children, they are getting that awesome piece of work they’ve just carefully written published and shared with the world, which could not be more exciting. And for teachers, we’re building a global library of ideas, content and resource.”

A number of high-profile authors have given it their backing. Bestselling children’s author Michael Morpurgo said: “Publishing and celebrating children’s writing on Pobble shows children that their writing matters. It gives young writers a real audience and therefore a purpose and reason to be proud.”