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Volunteer readers learn the ropes
VOLUNTEERS have started their specialist training to read with school pupils as part of the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.
The Oxford Mail-backed campaign, run by the National Literacy Trust, aims to drive up reading standards in seven-year-olds and foster a lifelong love of reading.
So far 45 schools have signed up to take part and selected children have been working in small groups with teaching assistants on a programme called Project X Code. Now each child is being linked with a volunteer who will come in twice a week to read with them.
St Ebbe’s Primary School, in Whitehouse Road, South Oxford, is to put 12 pupils through the scheme and has recruited 10 volunteers.
They were trained by the school’s volunteer co-ordinator Helen Pope and are to start work after the Easter break.
Emma Tyreman, 43, from Abingdon Road, is taking part in the scheme, which will also help her twins Joshua and Matthew. She said: “The boys have special needs and are hard of hearing but they love reading and I love reading to them and listening to them read.
“I thought it would be a nice way of getting involved with the school.”
She said: “They do so many nice things that help them remember what they are doing. I am definitely looking forward to it.”
Postgraduate student Niina Tamura, 25, of Preachers Lane, contacted the school because she wanted to read with children.
She said: “This is obviously much more structured than me trying to randomly help a child to read.
“I am impressed by how much thought seems to have gone into the whole thing, they are really making it quite easy for us.”
Each volunteer has been provided with a handbook, including games, session plans and suggestions.
Fran Bardsley has signed up as an Oxfordshire Reading Campaign volunteer at St Ebbe’s Primary School, in Oxford. Here she explains why...
WHEN I was at primary school, we were given tins of words to take home and memorise.
My first memory of reading was when my schoolfriend was being tested and had correctly read the word ‘ball’.
I remember being determined to recall the word when I was tested later on.
I think I failed – but I didn’t fail to catch the reading bug.
I remember discovering the world of CS Lewis’s Narnia in the back of the cupboard, plunging into the sometimes terrifying landscape of Tolkien’s Middle Earth and the endless boarding school japes in Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers series.
I recall my parents asking me incredulously if it made me sick reading in the car, and saving up all my pocket and birthday money and spending it on the Anne of Green Gables series.
Today I have to read for work, with a daily diet of emails, reports and press releases.
But I choose to read for pleasure. I love reading, and cannot imagine not being able to do something so crucial to life.
As education reporter at the Oxford Mail, I know more than most about the challenges facing our schools and regularly hear about pupils struggling with reading and literacy — and how much of a barrier it is to successful learning.
If there is anything I can do to help share my enthusiasm for the written word and make even the smallest difference to one child, it has to be worth doing.