Giving Children the Right to Read

Local children were not the only ones to go back to school this September. They were joined by 20 employee-volunteers on the Right to Read programme which aims to instil a love of reading and increase literacy levels amongst  primary school children.

Since 2006, York Cares has been matching employee-volunteers with schools to provide much needed one-to-one reading support for children.

Over 100 volunteers visit 21 schools on a weekly basis to read with children for an hour. This individual interaction with role models from the business world not only improves children’s reading skills but has also proved invaluable in boosting their confidence and enhancing their social development.

Kathryn Darwin, Trainee Actuary at Aviva, has been a Right to Read volunteer for over a year, reading with children first at Derwent then Osbaldwick primary schools and as of last month Westfield Primary Community School. She said: “Right to Read couldn’t be more different to my day job but it really is one of the best parts of my week. There’s a real feel-good factor in listening to the children read and seeing them gain confidence. It’s great to see how proud they are when they finish a chapter or learn a new word.”

Tracey Ralph, Headteacher at Westfield Primary Community School, values the huge impact that Right to Read volunteers have on her pupils. She said: “We are celebrating exceptional Year 1 phonics results, which, at 83%, are above both national and York averages, and although we have outstanding teachers at Westfield, the support from our parents and key partners such as Acomb Explore and York Cares Right to Read volunteers cannot be underestimated.  We are sincerely grateful for the work of these highly trained, reliable and dedicated volunteers.”

York Cares will be recruiting for more Right to Read volunteers later this month. You can apply from Tuesday 28 October by emailing and indicating your interest in the scheme. Full training and an introduction to the school will be provided on Monday 1 December from 12-2pm in the city centre.