Charity having big impact on children’s reading age in Yorkshire

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A CHARITY which sends mentors into schools to help children in Yorkshire to read says that 10 hours of its one-to-one support is helping to raise the reading age of the pupils it works with by 15 months.

An impact report has been carried out to measure the progress of children who work with the Bradford-based charity Reading Matters.

It works to provide targeted one-to-one support for children and young people across the region who have fallen behind their peers.

During the academic year 2015-16, Reading Matters supported 6,805 children and young people.

The charity warns that currently one-in-four of all primary pupils leave school without the literacy skills required for a secondary education.

Official figures published last month also show Yorkshire had the lowest level of seven-year-old pupils making the grade in their Sats tests this year.

Figures from the Department for Education show 71 per cent of the region’s pupils made the grade in reading this year, lower than any other region in England.

A new impact report found that 98 per cent of children who took part in a Reading Matters’ intervention programme demonstrated a marked improvement in reading ability.

The reading age was raised by an average of 13 months after just 10 hours of support.

The charity’s chief executive Rachel Kelly said: “I’m delighted that Reading Matters has been able to make a difference to so many young people but there remains much work to be done in ensuring that all children have the necessary literacy skills to achieve their goals.

“Focussed and personal one-to-one support is a great way of helping a child to catch up quickly as working in partnership with a reading mentor or reading leader is such a motivating and fun experience.

Reading Matters manages a network of adult volunteer reading mentors.

The charity says these volunteers are “carefully selected, trained and vetted” before being sent into schools to help read with children who are identified as needing extra support.

Reading Matters now has about 100 people who work in the region’s schools providing this reading support. The mentors usually work with a child for 30 minutes twice a week, over a 10 week period.

The charity says that “emphasis is placed on getting to know the child and what interests them, understanding their particular difficulty with reading and on finding resources that will encourage and inspire them.”

The organisation started in Bradford but now has mentors working across Yorkshire.

It also provides training nationally for older school pupils to work as reading leaders supporting younger children.

In 2015/16 academic year the charity trained 715 reading leaders in secondary schools and another 205 reading leaders in primary schools.