With all official school restrictions lifting post-Covid, Schoolreaders are needed more than ever.
Pre-pandemic, 1 in 4 children were leaving primary school each year unable to read to the required standard according to government figures. The pandemic's disruption has turned this shocking statistic into an urgent crisis particularly for the most disadvantaged children.
Luckily, lots of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds have come forward keen to help, all with different motivations for getting involved with our charity. Read on to hear some of our Schoolreaders' stories...
Meet John ...
John 68, married with six grandchildren and three great grandchildren, from Chapeltown, Sheffield, says:
“I saw a Schoolreaders poster up at the school my great grandsons go to just before the pandemic in 2019 and it immediately sparked my interest. I retired three years ago but I’m not one to sit around!
“I’ve never worked with children directly but as a retired social worker in an adult mental health team, there is some cross over with my career so I felt confident this was a role I could do.
"My partner school is just a few miles from my home and is in an area of significant deprivation. Despite this I think the general standard of reading amongst the pupils is very good. The school is very pro giving every child the opportunity to read one-to-one to me so I hear most pupils during the course of the week.
“I have one boy who doesn’t read but I get him to look at a few words and letters and just follow his pace. Even just doing this I can see his literacy levels growing as the weeks fly by."
Meet Alison ...
A retired community and district nurse, Alison from Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands says:
“I wanted to be able to help today’s generation of children enjoy books . The pandemic really spurred me on as I was aware so many of those in primary school have been set back following the covid lockdowns, particularly in reading and it will take time for them to catch up.
“Becoming a reading volunteer through Schoolreaders took out all the hassle of cold calling schools to see if they needed any reading help. I didn’t want to be a nuisance.
“I was most definite I didn’t want a school in my own locality. I wanted to go somewhere where the kids aren’t reading well or don’t have stories read to them when they go home at night.
“It’s early days as I’ve not been volunteering for that long, but I can already see the children coming on. As they have got to know me, they have grown in confidence and their personalities are shining through. I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying hearing them read!"
Meet David ...
David has been volunteering in a primary school near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk for the last three years. A semi-retired technical marketing and development director, he visits his school once or twice a week depending on the school’s requirements and listens to 9-11 year olds read:
“A friend of mine – a teacher – lit the ember which inspired me to volunteer a few years ago. She said, ‘We need more people like you in schools to enthuse the children’. It got me thinking! I wasn’t sure about calling schools up out of the blue, but I did some googling and came across Schoolreaders. It turns out that people like me are wanted by Schoolreaders up and down the country to listen to children read!
“I work alongside a really inspirational male teacher who commands great respect with the children. I see myself as a resource to be used by him as he sees fit but this usually involves listening to around ten pupils read each week.
“I do my utmost to build a rapport with the pupils so that they feel at ease and look forward to our reading sessions. I tell them I’m ‘monstrously’ old which sometimes has them screaming with laughter and puts them at their ease!
“I see my role as being there to probe their understanding of the words and stories they are reading – a focused crucible for all their questions, comprehension and speech. For example, we came across the word ‘lamplighters’ in one pupil’s book recently so I stopped the child, asked him if he knew what it meant and then gave a simple explanation. So, it’s not just reading the words, it’s understanding them in their context and it helps them to learn about the world.
“Through being a Schoolreaders volunteer, I can do my bit to inspire the next generation. We live in a fascinating world and by reading more we can squeeze more excitement out of the world and fill in the spaces in children’s minds that no one has the time to fill."