More reading volunteers needed to help raise standards in schools

  
Press Release from Medway Council

With the festive season drawing near, why not give the gift of time to school children in Medway.More volunteers are needed to read with primary age children as part of the council’s Get Medway Learning campaign, in partnership with reading charity Beanstalk.
Nearly 70 local people have already pledged to give up a small amount of time each week to read with young people in Medway schools, but more are needed.
By Christmas, Beanstalk is aiming to have at least 95 volunteers on board and anyone who signs up will be fully trained and supported by the reading charity.
Christine Debenham, 67, from Gillingham became a reading volunteer in September and reads with children at Byron School twice a week for 90 minutes.
She said: “I was shopping at Hempstead Valley one day and the girls from Beanstalk were there holding a recruitment event, they were very friendly and supportive and I liked the idea of helping children to gain confidence in reading.
“I see the same three children twice a week for 30 minute sessions – we read for 20 minutes and chat and play games for the last 10 minutes.
“As I volunteer I was supplied with a Beanstalk box filled with books and games, and I can also go to the local library to get help in choosing other books which I think the children would enjoy. Medway library at Gillingham has been really helpful in finding the appropriate books for me – I can’t give them enough praise.”
“The children have been a joy and I have noticed the difference we are making, even in small steps. I always come away with a smile so that makes it worthwhile to me.”
Reading volunteers are a vital part of the wider Get Medway Learning campaign which aims to boost children’s love of learning and improve standards in all Medway schools. The campaign also includes a push on recruiting more outstanding teachers and getting more passionate school governors on board.
Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services Cllr Mike O’Brien said: “It is wonderful that nearly 70 local people have already pledged to give up a small amount of their time to help our local young people with their reading. I do urge anyone considering becoming a reading volunteer to speak to Beanstalk.
“This is all part of Get Medway Learning – an energetic programme focussed on sustainable improvement with the aim of seeing progress over the coming years. We need to drive up standards, give children quality education and enable them to achieve to the very best of their ability.”

Malou Bengtsson-Wheeler, Beanstalk Area Manager, said: “We are really grateful to all the fantastic people in Medway who have already come forward to become reading helpers to support Medway children and Medway schools. We still need more people to volunteer, so anyone who cares about children and has the patience and enthusiasm to support them to read, grow and succeed, should get in touch.”
Beanstalk is holding a recruitment event at Asda in Chatham today (17 November) to answer questions and provide more information about becoming a reading volunteer. For more information visit http://www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk or call 01622 662026.

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