FAQs for volunteers

These are the questions most frequently asked about volunteering.  If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us by email or telephone. 


Schools are now open and the need among pupils for reading support is greater than ever.  We are actively recruiting new volunteers now; please apply so that you can help children in a school near you catch up on vital literacy skills.

Do I have to commit to volunteering for a set length of time?

In order to provide consistent help to the children and school, we ask that our volunteers are prepared to stay with us for at least one full academic year.  

Will I need an Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check?

Yes, you will need to have an Enhanced DBS check carried out prior to starting in school.  Once you are matched with a school, staff there will organise this for you. Click here to find out more about the Enhanced DBS check. If you are already registered on the DBS update service https://www.gov.uk/dbs-update-service) this will be checked by the school.  ​


Will I be able to take holidays during term time?

Many of our volunteers are retired and do take some holidays during term time. These arrangements are made directly with the school who we find are always happy to accommodate planned absences.

Where and when will my sessions take place?

Schoolreaders sessions take place on the school premises during normal academic hours at times that you agree in advance with the school staff.  Every school makes its own arrangement with its volunteers, so it should be possible to find a time that suits you.  Sessions often take place in libraries and empty classrooms, or in any other quiet space, but in a very busy school it can be harder to find an unused area, so you may need to be prepared for this.


How many children will I see?  Do I see the same children each week?

We allow school staff to make decisions about which children should receive Schoolreaders help and encourage teachers to talk to our volunteers about what works best.  Most sessions last around ten minutes, but some may be longer. Each school uses our volunteers differently, so some volunteers see the same few children each week, while some will get to spend time with every member of the class over a term.


Will I receive any training?

Yes, you will receive the appropriate guidance and training.  This will be tailored according to your school and the age and needs of the children you will be supporting.  This may include guidance on reading support techniques, and will include school

safeguarding guidance, to provide you with the correct procedure in the unlikely event of a disclosure of abuse from a child, or if you have any concerns over a child’s safety. The school will also make you aware of any necessary health and safety, GDPR and evacuation procedures.
How long will it take for me to register and start?

The joining process is simple and we will make every effort to get you started as quickly as possible. Please note, however, that depending on your location, individual circumstances and the level of need within local schools, it can take anything from two weeks to three months* to place you. 

​* but this can be longer if you are not matched with a local school before the school holidays.

Can I claim expenses?

We regret that we are unable to pay your expenses, but we do make every effort to find a school that is easy for you to travel to and from. Many of our volunteers are able to walk from home to their school. ​


Will being a Schoolreader cost me anything?

No, it's completely free to become a Schoolreader (and the service is also completely free to the schools who use it).  Our administration costs are met by the fundraising efforts of our central team and our supporters. The vast majority of our partner schools are happy to pay for the cost of the Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check for our volunteers.  ​


Can I change schools?

We can, in some circumstances, arrange for you to change schools.


What if I need help or support?

In the first instance you should talk to your nominated co-ordinator at school.  Or, if you feel it more appropriate, you can contact the Schoolreaders team directly on the number below or by emailing admin@schoolreaders.org 

How old do I need to be to volunteer?

We can only accept volunteers who are aged 18 and over. This is due to the level of supervision a younger person might need within the school as well as school policies for under 18 volunteers.