Dorset Reading Partners

Children’s Literacy Charities Working Together March 2021

Children’s literacy charities working together and pioneering reading recovery as Covid 19 hits one year.

 With so much disruption to and uncertainty surrounding schooling during the Coronavirus pandemic, the stability, focus, confidence and skills built through reading have unsurprisingly suffered for many youngsters. The highlights of the latest UNESCO report: Covid has had a devastating effect on children reading, with up to 20% more children experiencing reading difficulties… experts are talking about a generational catastrophe.

Reading charities ABC to Read in Berkshire, ARCh in Oxfordshire and Dorset Reading Partners in Dorset are celebrating supporting thousands of children year since their inception and are pioneering a post-Covid recovery, adapting their life-changing one-to-one mentoring online as well as resuming their face-to-face sessions in schools.

The three groups were set up when a national charity closed its local branches and, whilst independent of each other, have a supportive and collaborative working relationship. They provide trained volunteer mentors to work with children one-to-one, making reading fun again and achieving fantastic results both in and out of the classroom, with reading, broader self-confidence and behaviour all seeing remarkable improvement.

All sessions are one-to-one, customised and tailored to each child’s levels and interests. Each volunteer is trained, vetted (with interviews, enhanced DBS check and references) and completes safeguarding training before being matched to a local school and provided with a box of books and games to use with the children they work with.

Having successfully launched online sessions into schools, the charities are also now preparing to reintroduce volunteers to schools during the summer term.  They are currently looking to recruit more volunteers to take part in training and are inviting schools to sign up to the scheme.

Marcia Rowlinson, ABC to Read CEO, said: “We are thrilled to be able to support so many children with our online reading sessions, continuing our commitment to schools and the children we support, thanks to our great team of volunteers and small but excellent staff team. We know that one-to-one, face-to-face teaching is the best method to support children, particularly if they have barriers to their learning, but are delighted to be able to reach more local children online even as we prepare to return to our provision of face-to-face mentoring when schools reopen.”

Juliet Ruddick from Dorset Reading Partners added: “Our volunteers are really looking forward to getting back to work and providing the support that so many children will be needing right now. Some will be working online while other will be going into school to run their sessions. The beauty of being a local charity is that we can liaise individually with each school and offer the working model that best suits them. We then provide all the training, resources and backup that volunteers need to make their sessions as enjoyable and effective as possible.”

Jane Rendle, Development Manager of ARCh said “We normally support around 1000 children in Oxfordshire each year and during the period of school closures we continued to support as many as we could. So many of our wonderful volunteers told us how much they missed their sessions in school so we are delighted that many are now resuming, and we would encourage more to join us to address the huge need now.”

Anyone interested in volunteering, or in using our quality service in their school, can follow the links below to find out more:

For Berkshire area www.abctoread.org.uk

For Dorset area www.dorsetreadingpartners.org.uk

For Oxfordshire area www.archoxfordshire.org.uk

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