Yorkshire charity boosts reading age of pupils by a year in 10 weeks

Reading Matters sends volunteers in to schools to mentor pupils and also trains older children to be reading leaders.
Reading Matters sends volunteers in to schools to mentor pupils and also trains older children to be reading leaders.
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A YORKSHIRE-based charity which sends volunteers into schools to help pupils read says its work has improved the reading age of the children they work with by a year in just 10 weeks.

Reading Matters’ impact report also says that 96 per cent of children who receive one-to-one intervention show an improvement in reading performance.

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On average, the reading age of the children supported improves by 12 months in just 10 weeks.

Reading Matters manages a network of adult volunteer reading mentors in schools throughout Yorkshire and beyond.

The charity, which is based in Bradford, also trains older pupils to be reading leaders to support younger ones at both primary and secondary schools and it delivers literacy development workshops and training for school staff, parents and carers across the UK.

The new impact report is compiled using data provided by the charity’s reading mentors and reading leaders.

A reading mentor usually works with a child for 30 minutes twice a week, over a 10-week period. A reading leader tends to work with a reading partner once a week.

The impact report also reveals that 90 per cent of children demonstrated improved confidence and 82 per cent showed an improved attitude to reading after working with volunteers trained by Reading Matters.

The charity’s chief executive, Rachel Kelly, said: “I’m really proud that, as an organisation, we have managed to support 6,417 children and young people to improve their reading skills this year.

“Becoming a confident reader will give these children the best possible chance of achieving their goals.”

The charity also trained more than 1,000 people this year. This included 728 pupils who were trained to be reading leaders in secondary school and another 97 children who were trained to be reading leaders in primary schools.

It also took on another 143 reading mentors and reached 102 parents and carers through workshops aimed at helping families to read. Of the 6,417 children the charity reached this year, 5,098 were in Yorkshire and another 1,319 were elsewhere in the country.

The charity have also teamed up with Fink Cards, which makes conversation-provoking question cards.

They are producing a new set to stimulate children’s communication skills.

The cards, which each feature a question relating to books, reading and storytelling are designed to expand vocabulary, develop language proficiency and improve communication skills.

Fink Cards was set up by Lisa Warner, a mother-of-four, who developed the idea as a means of preventing her children from arguing at dinner time.

Mrs Kelly said: “I’ve always loved Fink cards as they are an enjoyable way of engaging children in conversation which is so important for literacy development. The ‘Reading Matters’ themed cards are ideal for stimulating not only struggling and reluctant readers, but all young people.”

READING Matters is also giving support to help teenage parents to read to their children.

The work has started in Leeds funded by the Siobhan Dowd Trust which awards grants to projects which “bring the joy of reading to disadvantaged children and young adults”.

Reading Matters is working with Leeds Council’s Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood team to identify people who will benefit. The council’s team already works with schools in the city to support pupils in the system who are also parents themselves. Reading Matters’ chief executive, Rachel Kelly, said its work was focused on finding what interests individual children in order to help them to enjoy reading.

She added: “We want to be able to help give young people the confidence to be able to read and share books with their babies and as they grow up.”

PLANS: Gipton Juniors training at Fearnville Leisure Centre where the new school was proposed to be built.

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