THE CELEBRATIONS are continuing for one charity that helps children to read after winning funds to expand its work into secondary schools.

ARCh reading charity, based in Bicester, will pilot a scheme in Oxford where its volunteers will expand on the work they do in primary schools.

It follows a successful approach to The Funding Network, a crowd-funding group, where representatives from the charity had to apply for cash in a "Dragons' Den" style bid.

The focus of the scheme will be in Blackbird Leys and it also means some pupils getting support at primary level will now be able to continue this as they move schools.

ARCh development manager Jane Rendle said: "We have called it a Transition Project and is a response to the need in Oxfordshire to help those children that are leaving primary school without the Government expected level for reading.

"There was a story in the Oxford Mail which highlighted around 40 per cent of children come from disadvantaged backgrounds - those eligible for free school meals - and are leaving primary schools with a lack of reading skills.

"We are really focusing on Blackbird Leys where there is the need and looking at piloting the project with people at schools such as Pegasus Primary School and Blackbird Leys Academy."

ARCh volunteers currently only work with pupils up to Year 6 helping with one on one reading sessions about twice a week.

It relies heavily on donations and funding grants and the success on this project comes after a celebratory year for the charity.

Members of the team were invited to Her Majesty's birthday lunch on The Mall this summer and also received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service as the highest endorsement of its work.

Ms Rendle added: "We are hoping to bring in new volunteers both for our work in primary schools and those interested in the transition project.

"It is about raising aspirations and making reading enjoyable for children, then hopefully moving into secondary seeing a familiar face for children will help that transition.

"It is very exciting, although all very early doors but we hope to pilot it with about 10 volunteers.

"It is part of growing ARCh and hopefully a way of offering support for an increasing number of children."

The pilot scheme is hoped to start for the next new school year in September 2017.

Anyone looking to volunteer individually or as a business with ARCh can find out more at