National children’s literacy charity, Schoolreaders, is urgently looking for enthusiastic volunteers to step forward to help local primary school children who need help to catch up on their reading.
Schoolreaders, which matches volunteers to schools to listen to children read, has hundreds of active volunteers in primary schools nationwide but more are required, particularly to help those most disadvantaged following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, 200,000 children leave primary school every year unable to read to the required standard and, whilst the government has pledged to reduce this figure by 2030, many children need additional classroom reading support right away.
Schoolreaders’ own research, conducted in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, shows that nearly three quarters of schools estimated that reading ages at Key Stage 1 (five to seven year olds) had been negatively impacted by a worrying three to six months or more since the pandemic. 89% of schools surveyed stated an even greater need for Schoolreaders than before COVID.
Schoolreaders volunteers are asked to listen to children read a minimum of once a week in term time and to commit to an academic year. By applying now, new volunteers will be matched as quickly as possible to a partner school and be ready to start once they have completed a mandatory DBS check and virtual safeguarding training.
Jane Whitbread, founder of Schoolreaders, comments: “Reading, particularly for the youngest children, has been set back enormously by the pandemic and if we don’t rally round now, we risk thousands of children falling behind.
“Children who leave primary school unable to read well can’t access their secondary schooling fully which is likely to negatively affect their life chances. Poor reading skills hinders such simple things as reading instructions, understanding a medicine label or accessing information over the internet which so many of us take for granted.
“Additionally, children benefit enormously from positive role models in the classroom. There is just no substitute for reading aloud to a trusted adult, discussing words or a story and building a rapport. Being one of our volunteers is a very positive thing to do and a way individuals can do their bit to help children in their communities, providing a crucial supplement to classroom teaching. Literacy opens doors, helps learning and brings new opportunities.”
To find out more or to apply today to be a Schoolreaders volunteer in 2022 to help schools with the greatest need, visit www.schoolreaders.org.