How Volunteers Help Get a School Reading

Article excerpt

A YEAR ago, this paper embarked on a ground-breaking scheme to transform the literacy and reading habits of a struggling London school. We adopted St Mary's primary school in Battersea as part of our Get London Reading campaign. Volunteers were trained by our partner organisation, Volunteer Reading Help, and worked oneto-one with pupils. The new head at St Mary's, Jared Brading, keenly embraced the project.

And now we know the result. More than 90 per cent of 11-year-old pupils passed English and maths at Key Stage 2, compared with about half this time last year. And 100 per cent of the seven-year-olds passed Key Stage 1 reading and writing tests.

Of course, there were other aspects to the project. A year ago, St Mary's had no library; now it does, stocked with hundreds of books, most of them donated by public-spirited publishers. Several authors, including Andy Stanton, and celebrity readers, including Simon Callow, read and discussed books with the pupils. The Prime Minister paid a visit; so did the Ofsted head, Sir Michael Wilshaw. …

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