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Gloucestershire Business News

Gloucestershire project calls on employers to help children read

One in five children currently leaves primary school unable to read well and many will never catch up. That's why Gloucestershire literacy project Read with me is asking local employers to encourage staff to give an hour a week to hear children read.

Employees give an hour a week, even when working from home, which allows them to read with four children in 15-minute slots. This can be delivered in two half hour sessions on different days, or an hour once a week.

Linda Cohen, Read with me founder, said: "We set up Read with me to provide reading support to the children who would otherwise leave primary school unable to read well. However, the time lost this year due to school shutdown has made the situation much worse and we urgently need more volunteers to help plug the gap.

"Helping to ensure these children fulfil their potential is about giving consistent support. Children who are unable to read properly by the age of seven never catch up. They do less well at school and have dramatically reduced employment choices and earning opportunities.

"The results of the project are transforming - we've already seen huge progress with some of our littlest readers in just the last three weeks. The programme targets reception and year one children to minimise the delay in children learning to read well and to ensure they benefit as much as possible from all other lessons and forms of learning. Children become more confident, articulate and happy as a by-product of this programme."

Charlotte Holloway, assistant head of Grange Primary Academy in Tuffley, said: "I will always give priority to reading time over everything else. Once a child can read, then learning and the whole world opens up to them."

Excellent reading programmes and support exist in most schools in the UK, but in almost every case resource is stretched and it is not possible to hear every child read every day. Many children's reading will never be listened to at home.

For businesses which take part in the programme, it helps reinforce corporate social responsibility credentials in a quantifiable way, with measurable results and direct benefits for the local community. For employees, it is a hugely satisfying experience.

The programme costs just £50 per child per year and has recently received funding from Gloucestershire Community Foundation.

To find out more or to take part visit www.readwithme.org.uk 

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