ENOUGH volunteers have been recruited for the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign to start the first phase of the campaign.

The National Literacy Trust, which is running the Oxford Mail- backed campaign, has asked for volunteer applications for the first wave of schools taking part in the programme to be made by Friday, October 19, after being overwhelmed by people coming forward.

To date, 79 people have said they want to get involved, reading one to one in schools with children who need the most help.

So far 18 schools have signed up to take part and the organisation wants to make sure all the early volunteers can be matched with a suitable school. Volunteer manager Bianca Bailey said: “It is fantastic that so many people have signed up.

“I want to be able to place as many of those people who are obviously really interested and really want to be involved.” There will be more opportunities to volunteer.

The initial deadline for schools to sign up is the same date, October 19, with staff training due to take place in November.

There will also be a chance for schools to join in a second wave, by December. Once training for teaching assistants within the schools takes place, the trust will have a clearer idea of how many children need support in each school and how many volunteers they need.

The first stream of volunteers will be trained in January. When the second tranche of schools has signed up, if more volunteers are needed there will be a new push to get people to volunteer.

Ms Bailey said there had been a good response from people in Oxford, Witney and Abingdon, but not so many from Didcot, Banbury and Bicester. Among the first volunteers to put their names forward is mum-of-four Tammy Lawson. She said: “Anything that encourages children to read is fantastic.

“Coming across the campaign coincided with me reading a statistic that 20 per cent of children leave primary school with a reading age of seven. “Who would want kids in your community to grow up not being able to read well for want of someone sitting and listening to them read?”

Mrs Lawson, 43, from Chipping Norton, has two sons, Lexi, eight, Benji, six, and girl-boy twins Bea and Albie, four, who attend Holy Trinity Primary School.

Her eldest son was a reluctant reader. Mrs Lawson said “He had a very slow start and there was a lot of talk about whether he might have dyslexia.

“We plodded away and it was like walking through treacle, then he just suddenly got it and all that hard work was worthwhile. “Now every time you turn your back, he's reading when he should putting his shoes on for school.”


  • A MAJOR campaign to get Oxfordshire reading has been launched by Oxfordshire County Council, back by the Oxford Mail. The authority has set aside more than half a million pounds for the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.

The goal is for a dramatic increase in the proportion of children achieving the higher levels at Key Stage 1 reading, which are taken by seven-year-olds, and to foster a life-long love of reading. The campaign, run by the National Literacy Trust, will see an army of volunteers being sent in to read with the children who need the most help in 81 ‘focus’ schools, plus a range of school improvement measures including training at all levels. Today we catch up with the progress made so far, and get the backing of Blackwells staff and Book Award winners.