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Paired Reading partnerships aim to boost literacy of Scottish primary school children

Dozens of adults are going back to school as part of a volunteer reading programme to help tackle inequalities in literacy among primary-aged children.

Paired Reading is an initiative run by Business in the Community Scotland (BITC Scotland), encouraging businesses to develop partnerships with local schools to provide reading support for children and volunteer opportunities for employees.

The programme has proven to be successful among larger companies, but additional funding from The Robertson Trust, The Barrack Charitable Trust and the Ernest Cook Trust has allowed BITC Scotland to extend the opportunity to SMEs around the country.

Over 50 enthusiastic volunteers will be starting paired reading programmes in schools in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Inverness between August and October.

For the first time since the programme’s inception, employees from BITC Scotland will be taking part in the initiative, supporting children at Sighthill Primary School. Other SMEs taking part in the programme include Canongate, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Anderson Strathern.

Paired Reading enables volunteers to go into their local schools to spend half an hour a week supporting children aged 7 to 11 with their reading.

Scottish Government statistics show that one in five of the poorest children in Scotland are leaving primary school unable to read well. The Paired Reading programme helps boost confidence among young people, improves literacy, ensuring a child’s success at school and beyond is not determined by their social background.

Alan Thornburrow, Director of Business in the Community Scotland, said:

“Business in the Community Scotland’s Paired Reading programme is a fantastic means of providing worthwhile volunteering opportunities for SMEs. It enables them to embrace the responsible business agenda, making a real and tangible difference to children in Edinburgh. It also allows children to benefit from one-to-one support which helps boost literacy levels across the country.”

“Cost can often be a barrier to small businesses getting involved in volunteering opportunities like this, and we are delighted to have removed this obstacle with the help of a number of funders, allowing us to widen the reach of the programme - not forgetting our own partnership with our local primary school in Sighthill.”

Catriona Aitchison, Acting Principal Teacher of Sighthill Primary added: “At Sighthill Primary School we are delighted to be participating in the Paired Reading programme. We are all looking forward to welcoming volunteers from Business in the Community Scotland to the school to read with our children.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for pupils which will be of great benefit to the children’s literacy skills whilst also fostering their self-confidence and encouraging a love for reading.”

To find out more about Paired Reading, please e-mail Alison Jones.