Executive Summary

I didn’t like reading in Year 2, but I do now. I liked sharing reading with my volunteer.

Vision
Every child a reader, with the self-confidence and skills to make positive life choices and contribute to their wider community.

Mission
Our mission is to transform children’s lives by working with schools, families and the children themselves to provide high quality support in developing literacy skills and building self-confidence.

  • Aims
    To help as many children in Berkshire as we can to improve their reading and so enable them to achieve success in later education and confidently meet the challenges of adult life that follow.
  • To recruit, train and provide ongoing support for volunteer reading mentors to go into primary schools and work individually with children to help them improve their literacy skills and boost their confidence.
  • To provide training for parents to enable them to help their own children at home and support their learning at school.

The problems we address
In 2014, too many children are still struggling to read effectively:

  • By the time they are 11, almost 1 in 8 children leave primary school without the expected level of reading required
  • About a third of six-year-olds are struggling with their reading after their first year at school. About a quarter of seven-year-olds are still struggling with their reading after their second year. (Department for Education, 2013).
  • Half of 15-17 year olds entering public sector Young Offender Institutes were assessed as having the literacy levels equivalent to that expected of a 7-11 year old. (Government Green Paper, February 2013)

Many children in Berkshire are struggling with social and educational inequality:

  • In 2012, disadvantaged children in West Berkshire had the worst attainment in England at primary school level (Ofsted).
  • Educational attainment in Reading especially is below average in Key Stage 1 and 2 (Children & Young People’s Plan 2011-14).
  • 27% of Reading children live in the 30% most deprived areas in England (Reading Borough Council).

The social outcome that we work to achieve
We work to achieve positive educational and social outcomes for the children we support. Receiving regular one to one attention from one of our volunteer reading mentors has many positive benefits, including:

  • Increased confidence in reading and other literacy skills
  • Improved self-esteem from feeling, and being, listened to
  • Increased motivation to read and to learn
  • Higher levels of confidence in themselves and their abilities in all areas, not just reading
  • Better relationships with family, peers and teachers
  • Improved opportunities and aspirations for their future

What we do to achieve this
We provide schools with volunteer reading mentors who will motivate, raise self-esteem and help each child they work with to enjoy reading.

We also run the following courses to support families and children:

  • Parent helper – for those who volunteer in their child’s school (2-day course)
  • Ready to Read – for parents of pre-schoolers to help them understand what they can be doing now to prepare their children for a lifelong love of reading (2 x 2 hour sessions)
  • Workshops – shorter, focussed sessions on specific aspects of our longer courses (usually 2 hours)

Our objectives for 2014-2017

  • Double in size within 3 years in order that we can provide a volunteer reading mentor for more children who are struggling to read confidently
  • Create a fund so that we can cover the costs for schools that are struggling to fund a volunteer reading mentor for a child who needs support
  • Offer the Ready to Read course to more parents so that they feel more confident and their children are better prepared for learning to read
  • Explore partnerships with other organisations that work with children and families in order to reach more children who are struggling to read confidently
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of offering our services to children and their families in counties other than Berkshire (business plan year 2)

Throughout the time the volunteers spent with them, Michael and Josie became much more confident with reading and were more willing to have a go even if they weren’t sure. I think that without ABC to read the children would not have made so much progress both with reading and with their personalities.