A symbiotically enriching scheme for young readers and peer mentors

20 April 2023

Home>Foundation News>A symbiotically enriching scheme for young readers and peer mentors

With over 50 years of experience pairing volunteer reading helpers with young people, Coram Beanstalk has launched a brilliant new initiative designed to raise up both learners and volunteers. With family roots in Lancashire, we are delighted to help establish this programme in the North-West of England. 

Reports show that 4 in 10 children on free school meals are not able to read well by the age of 11, and each year, only 10% of disadvantaged children who leave primary school with their reading below the expected standard for their age get passes in English and Maths GCSE. The lifelong disadvantages of struggling with reading are well documented, and so charities like Coram Beanstalk are committed to find new ways of engaging children at an early stage to ensure they have the best possible chance of succeeding as adults. We believe the Reading Leaders Programme, currently in its early stages, is an excellent example of finding new ways to do this.  

By training older students to be reading mentors to younger students, young readers gain a reading role model – a peer they can aspire to be like. Connecting peers helps alleviate the pressure experienced by the fear of getting something wrong and confidence can grow in its stead. For the older student, this is an excellent opportunity to gain leadership experience and to build skills that will help to open doors to further education and prospects beyond the classroom. Coram Beanstalk are recognised as an approved Activity Provider for the Duke of Edinburgh Award, so taking part in this scheme will help a student work towards that award if they choose. 

What I love about Reading Leaders is how the relationships can provide crucial information about reading difficulties that helps students in all aspects of school life, not just English lessons.’ – Michelle Downs, Literacy Coordinator, Shire Oak Academy, Walsall

The scheme also helps to support children in more deprived areas where there are not always enough volunteers to deliver much needed one-on-one reading help. In their quest to make sure no child is left behind, this in-school inter-peer scheme is a creative, much needed approach.  

The symbiotic advantages of this scheme – for both helper and reader – chime with our hopes of maximising impact wherever possible, and we are proud to support Coram Beanstalk to train students in secondary schools in Preston and in Blackpool, including materials and book boxes (vital at a time where school book budgets have been slashed). We wholeheartedly believe this scheme will create opportunity and build confidence for all who take part in it.

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