Students sign up to boost literacy

Oxford Mail: Emily Sweetingham, left, and Natalie Kimberley choosing books to read with young children as part of the reading campaign Buy this photo » Emily Sweetingham, left, and Natalie Kimberley choosing books to read with young children as part of the reading campaign

A GROUP of college pupils are the latest to sign up as volunteers for the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.

Five teenagers taking sixth form qualifications at Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, who hope to pursue a career in teaching, have put themselves forward to take part in the scheme.

Nineteen-year-olds Jade Monaghan, Emily Falkner, Emily Sweetingham and Natalie Kimberley, and 18 -year-old Hannah Smith have joined more than 100 people across Oxfordshire who hope to make a difference by reading with some of the county’s youngest children.

The Banbury-based teenagers will receive training in February then commit to spending two half-hour sessions with a child a week for 10 weeks, encouraging enjoyment in books.

Miss Sweetingham, who is studying for an extended diploma in performing arts, said: “I’ve got the hope of becoming a teacher and I wanted to get some experience in teaching with the younger kids.”

She already volunteers in a primary school and said she hoped this would be a way to expand on this.

She said: “I always enjoyed reading when I was a kid, so I thought I would like to help the other children.

“It will be a new thing for me because I am the youngest in my family so they were always reading to me.”

She said she hoped to use her performing arts experiences to help bring books alive for the children, using different voices and accents.

Miss Kimberley, who is taking the same qualification and also studying for an A-Level in dance, has personal experience of difficulties with reading.

She said: “I used to struggle with reading as a child so I would like to help these children as people helped me.

“I had all the help I needed in primary school but also my mum used to read to me and help me with my homework. It’s something I feel quite strongly about.”

She said she was now a keen reader who took a book with her to bed each night and she reads with her three-year-old brother at bedtime.

She said: “I do the accents and voices and he loves it.”

Kate McKenzie, A-Levels programme manager at the college’s Banbury campus, said taking part was a win-win situation for both students at the college and the schools.

She said: “The biggest advantage for them personally is that this will be valuable experience for them, both in furthering their career and also securing the next step in their education.

“To improve literacy and have our students contributing to it is great.”

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