SCHOOLS taking part in the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign are ready to start training volunteers to read with youngsters.

Launched four months ago by Oxfordshire County Council, the £585,000 scheme to drive up reading standards is backed by the Oxford Mail and run by the National Literacy Trust.

Each of the 81 schools involved has nominated a volunteer co-ordinator who will organise their programme.

The co-ordinators’ responsibilities include training parents, governors and interested members of the community to help children themselves.

The National Literacy Trust has now trained most of the volunteer co-ordinators so they are ready to pass on the knowledge to their volunteer helpers.

Angela Taylor, 59, will be volunteer co-ordinator at New Marston Primary School.

A school governor and mum of three, Mrs Taylor was approached by the school to champion the programme and said she couldn’t wait to get started.

She said: “I have spent many years going in and out of schools and helping them with reading and listening to them.

“The thing about this campaign that I like is that it isn’t necessarily teaching them to read, but teaching them the enjoyment of books.”

Initially four children at the school will be taking part in the programme.

Mrs Taylor said depending on the number of volunteers both recruited through the school, and through the Oxford Mail and National Literacy Trust’s drive to enlist members of the public to take part, she might herself read with the children.

She said: “I am very interested in being involved but if we get lots of other volunteers desperate to be involved, I will sit back knowing that next year we will want to do it with more children and I will have a chance to do it then.”

The volunteer co-ordinators include teachers, teaching assistants, governors and parents.

Among them is Sylvia Langden, the teaching assistant who is leading the other strand of the programme at Millbrook Primary School in Grove.

She has been working with two groups of children for three weeks on the reading intervention programme based around the Project X Code books, but will also co-ordinate volunteers at the school.

Mrs Langden said: “It’s proven to be a huge success.

“As well as improving the reading skills, it is actually bringing back the enjoyment of reading so children see reading as a fun and interesting thing as opposed to just learning to read.”

The school is hoping to start the volunteer programme in March with four volunteers, with plans to extend the scheme in September.

Church Cowley Primary School headteacher Jason Clarke will be taking on the role in his school.

He said: “It is giving the children even more opportunity to read.

“It is a limited amount of work for us that should provide a large amount of benefit.”

National Literacy Trust volunteer co-ordinator Bianca Bailey said: “The training went really well and everybody was really excited to get going.”

MEASURING PROGRESS Schools taking part are providing quarterly reports to Edge Hill University, which is feeding the information back to Oxfordshire County Council.

As schools are starting the programme at different times, the information will be filtered back gradually, then by the end of the summer it will be analysed by the National Literacy Trust.

Baseline readings have been taken for children taking part, indicating their reading age in years and months, and these will be measured again at the end of the scheme.

Key Stage 1 results data will also give an indication as to how much impact the scheme has had on the county’s performance in teacher assessments at age seven.