Berkshire charity hold prices despite education cuts

Categories: News

Local reading charity ABC to Read have announced that they will be holding the price of their school contributions for their volunteer mentors, despite acute pressures on school budgets.

The charity’s prices are being held for the seventh successive year at just £360 per volunteer, representing a real-term reduction of 12% over that period; just £3 a week per child. 95% of the children working with an ABC to Read experience an improvement in their reading performance with 96% reporting a higher self-esteem as a result, making this £3 cost exceptional value.

ABC to Read liaises very closely with the primary schools it works with, to identify the children who would benefit most from a volunteer mentor to read with them. The school’s contribution helps towards the cost of recruiting, training and supporting volunteers. It also provides the charity with the necessary resources and pays volunteer travel expenses where appropriate which is essential for the charity to carry on with their vital work in helping children find the fun in reading.

Many schools choose to allocate children in receipt of PPG funding to be assigned an ABC to Read mentor. Where just one of the allocated children is in receipt of the disadvantaged children’s PPG grant, the ABC to Read contribution still leaves 73% of that PPG income free for schools to use in other ways, with the two other children effectively costing nothing. If all three of the allocated children are receiving PPG support, the charity contribution uses just 9% of the total PPG income, leaving schools with over 90% to use in other ways.

ABC to Read have recently achieved the Investing in Volunteers Quality Standard, recognising the excellent work they do with volunteers. The charity was assessed against a range of best practice standards and proved to excel in all aspects of working with its volunteers. Like many grassroots charities, it has limited resources with only a handful of part-time paid staff. The only reason it can support the children in Berkshire struggling most with their reading is thanks to its 120 strong band of volunteers who train to become mentors.

Marcia Rowlinson, ABC to Read Chief Operating and Development Officer, said: “School funding cuts are a huge concern for the schools we work with. It is a testament to our volunteer mentors that the schools we work with affirm their impact to be worth the contribution and we will continue to ensure that our incredible team of highly trained volunteers make this provision invaluable to local schools and the youngsters who benefit.”

There are still spaces available for any new volunteers to take part in ABC to Read volunteer training as well as for new schools to join. For more information about training days or joining the scheme as a school or volunteer mentor, contact: abctoread@btconnect.com