In addition to our core service of training volunteers that we recruit, we also offer a course where we train volunteers that the School has chosen – these are usually parents, grandparents and “friends” of the school.

The Parent Helper Training Course consists of 2 full day sessions (each 5 hrs). The course is very interactive, using video clips, discussion and role play to help volunteers understand how they can help children to succeed and enjoy reading. We also talk about confidentiality and safeguarding which is very important when having volunteers in a school setting. It is expected that participants attend the whole course.

The School provides the venue, refreshments, resources and printing of handouts. There is also the option of having further half day training either half way through the year or each term. The course also has a team building effect and we have found that the school usually ends up with an effective volunteer team at the end of the course.

What do the volunteers do?

Our model is that the volunteers go into school usually twice a week and spend half an hour with each child. They work with two to three children over a complete term/year. So it is important that the volunteers are prepared for this commitment.

The children they work with are usually those who need confidence building and are under performing in their reading.

The volunteers have their own resources and usually work outside of the classroom so that their work does not impede on the class teacher. The volunteers become more like mentors over the year and we have found that most children generally make good progress.

In 2012 67% of the children our volunteers worked with made more than two sub levels of progress in reading over the year.

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Course content 

The course is interactive, and uses a range of activities.

The topics included are:

Session 1

Qualities of volunteer

Confidentiality

Learning to read

Why some children find it hard to learn to read

Reading in school: phonics, group reading, questioning techniques

Working with children -DVD clips and general discussion

Reading for meaning activities

Paired reading

Practising some of the techniques (role play)

Picture books – sharing a story

Session 2

Reading all around us

Safeguarding

Why we play games and a chance to try some out – discussion and practical experience

Making books and games with children

Planning–

Sessions for different children

The first session

Volunteering in school – Hints, tips and some FAQs