An event aimed at improving literacy levels across the Witham constituency returned for its seventh consecutive year.

MP Priti Patel's Get Witham Reading day took place on Thursday, July 5, at seven schools across the area.

The event, which has received praise from Prime Minister Theresa May, was opened by Ms Patel at Powers Hall Academy, Witham, after which she toured Templars Academy, Witham, Silver End Academy and Thurstable School, Tiptree.

Students took part in a range of activities across the schools, in order to increase enthusiasm about the literary world.

Ms Patel said: "I established Get Witham Reading in 2012 to bring the community together, help improve literacy levels and ultimately, encourage a love of reading.

"Recreational reading helps to foster imaginations as well as improve core academic skills.

“I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Powers Hall Academy, Templars Academy, Silver End Academy and Thurstable School today to meet with pupils, teachers and parents as well as join in with some of their activities.”

Children dressed in colourful costumes portraying their favourite literary characters and the schools chose a theme for the festivities.

At Powers Hall Academy the school hosted a Mad Hatters' tea party, in honour of Lewis Carroll classic Alice in Wonderland.

Jane Bass, chief executive officer of Connected Learning Multi Academy Trust, said: "Three of our schools based in Witham – Powers Hall Academy, Templars Academy, and Silver End Academy – have all participated in Get Witham Reading.

"It is fantastic to see so many of our pupils enjoying recreational reading and discussing their favourite books.

“Across all three of our schools, pupils have thoroughly enjoyed dressing up as characters from various books and taking part in the activities we have organised.

"Templars Academy transformed the school into different worlds from their favourite fantasy novels and pupils at Silver End Academy had a magical day dressing up as Witches and Wizards.

"We are all looking forward to next year’s event already."

New Rickstones Academy, Witham, Elm Hall Primary, Witham, and Baynards Primary, Tiptree, also rook part.