PRIMARY schools in Northwich, Winsford, and Middlewich are crying out for volunteers to listen to pupils read.

According to child literacy charity, Schoolreaders, one in four primary school children in England fails to reach the expected standard of reading by the age of 11.

This means they struggle to access their secondary school education fully, which can have serious knock-on effects potentially lasting a lifetime.  

Schoolreaders recruits, places, and supports volunteers to go to primary schools and provide free, weekly, one-to-one reading support for children, prioritising the most disadvantaged.

Northwich Guardian: Schoolreader volunteers need no experience working in education Schoolreader volunteers need no experience working in education (Image: Schoolreaders)

Karen Burgess, a retired early years teacher from Winsford, started volunteering with Schoolreaders in November 2023.

The 66-year-old spends one day a week at Oak View Academy and says it ‘fills a gap’ for her, as her two young grandsons live more than 300 miles away in Cornwall.

“The pleasure of seeing these children progress and bloom is why I do it,” she said.

“When I first started in November, the youngster I support were all really reluctant readers.

“But when I went in last week, I had a crowd of children around me asking if they could read to me, and asking to go first. It was just lovely.  

Northwich Guardian: To listen to a child read, all you need is a good standard of written English and the ability to pass a DBS checkTo listen to a child read, all you need is a good standard of written English and the ability to pass a DBS check (Image: Schoolreaders)

“It gives you a real buzz when things like that happen. When you know you’ve touched someone's life in such a positive way, it gives you so much pleasure.

“I used to be a teacher, but that’s incidental. Volunteers don’t need any particular education experience.

“Sometimes, improving is just a question of confidence for these youngsters. It’s about developing a rapport with them and making them feel comfortable.

“And when they achieve something, they’re so proud of themselves you can see them physically growing.

“It gives you a far greater buzz than anything else I’ve experienced. They’re giving me far more than I’m giving them.”

To volunteer, all you needs is some time to spare and a good grasp of written English. You do need to agree to the charity’s code of conduct and have a DBS check before going into schools.

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Founder of Schoolreaders, Jane Whitbread, said: “Children who leave primary school unable to read well can’t access their secondary schooling fully which will compromise their future life opportunities.

“Schoolreaders volunteers, like Karen, provide a crucial supplement to classroom teaching and are welcomed by schools and the children.

“If more children gain pleasure from reading from an early age and their reading fluency and confidence improves too, communities and society will reap the benefits.”