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Volunteers get Medway reading

by Marco Cillario Tue 2 February 2016, 5:47 pm

A charity which helps Medway’s primary school pupils who are struggling with reading is calling for volunteers.

The Get Medway Learning project was launched in April 2015 by literacy charity Beanstalk in partnership with Medway Council in response to research showing that one in six children in Medway leave primary school having failed to reach the expected reading standards for their age.

Since the project began on 15 October 2015, 70 training reading helpers were selected by the charity after interviews, training and police checks.

Each of them was placed in a local school to hold one-to-one sessions with three students that were falling behind with their reading or who were disinterested in it.

The sessions, different from normal school classes, are based on open communication. Much time is spent chatting and playing games, with the goal of raising confidence in reading.

More than 200 children are being helped. Many of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds and do not have anyone to read with them at home.

Beanstalk has also observed that, with 30 students in a classroom, it is often difficult to give, significant one-to-one time with children. As a result, those who are falling behind in their class will often be shy and embarrassed that they cannot read.

In a non-pressured environment of one-to-one sessions, children can build their confidence to ask when they cannot read a word, the charity said.

Schools are reporting back on the notable difference in students’ engagement in reading, which has a significant impact on the rest of their studies.

“One of my children, a delightful little boy called Alfie, jumped up with a big smile on his face and said ‘oh good, I love coming with you’ when I went to collect him from his class,” said a reading helper, adding: “That particular day, he really did extremely well and I was able to reward him with a marble in his jar in class.”

Beanstalk is calling for more people to take part in the scheme – and has a target of creating 28 more places. Also, after the outcome of the work done so far, new schools are looking for volunteers outside of the project.

While volunteers are needed in locations across Medway and Kent, there is particular call for reading helpers in Chatham and Strood, and for one more in the Isle of Grain.

Full training is provided before placement. All trained reading helpers are then placed with a volunteer support worker to assist them.

The charity is asking for a commitment of two 90-minute sessions twice a week for a complete academic year.

People interested can call 01622 662 026 or visit beanstalkcharity.org.uk.

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