Volunteers flock to help

St Christopher’s Primary School in Oxford is among those that have already joined the campaign. Headteacher Alison Holden is pictured with seven-year-olds Oscar Sumner and Isabella De Olivera

Julie Bartlett, who's volunteered for the campaign, with sons Owen and Charlie

National Literary Trust volunteering manager Bianca Bailey

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

FIFTY people have signed up to volunteer for the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign in its first week.

And 12 schools of the 81 who have been invited to get involved have so far committed to taking part.

The National Literacy Trust, which is running the Oxford Mail-backed campaign on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council, is looking to recruit people to read one-to-one with children in each of the schools taking part in the campaign.

And a week after the campaign was launched 50 people from across the county have already expressed interest in giving up their time and taking part.

Among them is mum-of-two Julie Bartlett, from Stanford in the Vale.

Mrs Bartlett said: “You can gain so much knowledge through reading. It’s the basis for learning anything – you can’t read about other subjects unless you can read.

“The enjoyment of reading, of taking time out for yourself and having some quiet time to enjoy reading, is also really important.”

Mrs Bartlett said her older son, Owen, 11, was a keen reader with a love of books about history while her younger son, Charlie, seven, was more fond of comic books.

She already reads in school at Stanford in the Vale Primary with children of all ages, a commitment she plans to continue with alongside working on the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.

She urged others to sign up to take part and said: “It is rewarding.

“If you stick with it, you can see the progress the children make.”

Starting in January, volunteers will work one-to-one with seven-year-olds, committing to two half-hour sessions a week over 10 weeks.

National Literacy Trust volunteering manager Bianca Bailey said she needed to recruit a minimum of 100 volunteers, but would ideally like to have between 150 and 200 people she could call upon.

She said: “It’s been an amazing response, I am surprised we had so many people who expressed interest so early on.

“There is a wide range of people from across the county, men and women, which is really pleasing.

“Oxfordshire is a county that is known for education and literature and I think just knowing that there are children struggling probably made people want to get involved.

“We’re in a good position because we have a certain number of people signed up and more to come – now we need to get the schools to sign up so we can start training volunteer co-ordinators in schools.”

Schools which have signed up so far are St Leonard’s and Hill View primaries in Banbury, Barley Hill in Thame, Bure Park in Bicester, and Windmill and St Christopher’s in Oxford, Great Milton Primary and Stephen Freeman in Didcot St Christopher’s headteacher Alison Holden said: “I am committed to trying everything to raise standards for our children.

“If there’s something out there that’s different and people are buying into it, I want to have a go – I want our children to have the best.”

Visit oxfordmail.co.uk/reading_ campaign to find out how you could help with the campaign

CAMPAIGN GOALS

The Oxfordshire Reading Campaign was launched by Oxfordshire County Council, backed by the Oxford Mail, to improve reading standards in the youngest children.

The goals are to:

Improve the proportion of children who reach Level 2B at Key Stage 1 to 86 per cent – a rise of 12 percentage points

Increase enjoyment of and confidence in reading

Eighty-one schools across the county, chosen on Key Stage 1 results over the last three years, are being invited to take part.

The campaign is being run by the National Literacy Trust and will involve:

A reading intervention programme called Project X Code working with Year 2 children in up to 81 county primaries

Volunteers coming in to read one to one with the children involved in the Poroject X Code programme

Training and professional development for teachers, teaching assistants, literacy co-ordinators and headteachers

 

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