Monday 8 September marks International Literacy Day. With a new school year underway Mike Toy caught up with Karly House, a reading mentor from the Hove office of Legal & General, who has been working with pupils at Hangleton Junior School.
Numerous reports highlight that young people in England are amongst the lowest performing in global league tables for literacy. Unless action is taken to address this their could be serious implications for the UK business community in the years to come. Employers have a role to play in supporting young people to develop the the necessary skills for when they enter the workplace.
Here at Business in the Community our Right to Read programme enables young people to gain one to one support in developing their literacy whilst working with role models from the world of work. Here's what Karly told us about getting involved.
What motivated you to become a reading mentor?
I have been involved with the Right to Read programme since its inception at Legal & General in August 2012. As a child I had wanted to become a teacher so working in a primary school appealed to my childhood dreams! I am also a massive fan of reading, so I loved the idea of having the opportunity to share this love with the children.
How have the pupils reacted?
Most pupils enjoy the one on one attention they get. Those children who are shy about their reading capabilities can be reluctant to read to begin with, but after they’ve got to know you, their shyness goes and they begin to try, and you can see how they are more confident even when they make a mistake. Some even jump out of their seats when you walk into the classroom!
What do you see as being the benefits for yourself and the pupils?
For myself, one benefit has been the strengthening of my organisational skills; time management is key when you know you have to get through all your children and give them equal attention. As a Team leader for the programme here I am also organising cover for weeks when volunteers are unable to read and liaising with the school at every opportunity to get the best results.
For the children the benefit is that that one to one time, which may be in short supply throughout the week, bolsters their confidence immensely not only with their reading but also personally. You can see how they grow over the terms.
What support did you receive in developing the partnership?
Business in the Community were instrumental in setting the programme up by contacting a local school, providing training and getting us Legal & General volunteers organised and ready to enter the school. Our contact, Jenny Beacon, was great at organising meetings with the school and opening the communication channels. Now the programme is established our contact at Business in the Community is a great support to me in my role. I know if I need any help or guidance Jenny will always be there to help.
If you’re a business or school interested in forming a Reading Mentor Partnership in the South of England contact Jenny Beacon, Community Impact Manager on 07831 138257. You may also be interested in the Read On campaign, chaired by Julia Cleverdon, Business in the Community's Vice-President.