We want to help children leave primary school able to read. We are supporting the literacy charity Beanstalk to help make this happen. Beanstalk is committed to helping children who struggle with their reading ability and confidence and aims to help 18,000 children by the end of 2018.

Improving children’s literacy
We are training over 120 of our employees to volunteer with primary school children to help boost children’s reading abilities. Our employees participate in three types of volunteering, ‘Beanstalk Reading Helpers’ who volunteer in primary schools directly with children, ‘Reading Remotely Volunteers’ who support children’s reading over Skype and ‘Story Readers’ who run group sessions in schools. We also are providing books and visual aids to Beanstalk to help volunteers bring stories to life.

The Reading Remotely approach means we are able to reach children in areas where volunteers are in demand, by using technology to enable us to support these children. This programme is currently in trial stage and we are looking to work with Beanstalk to engage more businesses and increase its reach.

This builds on activity we delivered which includes funding Beanstalk community volunteers at two London primary schools, Argyle Primary School and Blessed Sacrament Primary in 2015, who provided weekly one-to-one sessions throughout the school term to children with specific reading challenges and helping 150 children in London in 2015 with their reading by funding reading helpers in St Mary’s School in Battersea and other London schools.

Making a difference
Beanstalk’s reading helpers have made a significant difference. All the children supported showed improvement with their reading with one child saying: “My reading helper has made such a difference to my reading. I love the time I spend with her, and she has helped me to enjoy books.”

Jill Pay, a reading helper said: “One of the boys I support has English as a second language and was a stilted reader. He now has the confidence to be more expressive and read for longer.”