Could you help give Banburyshire children a love of reading?

Maisy Flynn, 8 reading with ARCH volunteer Maureen Swallow
Maisy Flynn, 8 reading with ARCH volunteer Maureen Swallow

A reading scheme that pairs a volunteer with a school pupil for one-to-one enjoyment of books is looking for volunteers.

The ARCH scheme has been praised by teachers for allowing pupils who have had problems to catch up with their reading and improve their classroom performance.

ARCH volunteer Maureen Swallow and coordinator Jeremy Turner NNL-190715-134501001

ARCH volunteer Maureen Swallow and coordinator Jeremy Turner NNL-190715-134501001

Banbury coordinator, former head teacher Jeremy Turner, said: “Children enjoy their time with the ARCH volunteer; they become better readers and they become much more confident.

“Many of our volunteers are professional people - some are retired. Some are from the world of education but not all. Some are part-time workers.They range in age from 28 - 80.

“Schools have to pay a certain amout for each volunteer so about a half comes from them and the other half from sponsorship and charities.

“We ask our volunteers to commit to a year’s service after their training. It helps continuity for the school and the children but many carry on for longer than a year. One has been volunteering at a village school for 15 years.

“We ask them to commit to going into a school twice a week for an hour and a half during which time they help three children. So each child gets an hour of one-to-one contact a week for a year.

“It’s quite a large chunk of individual reading time with an adult. As well as reading there’s lots of language development; they play games, card games, draughts, chess, Connect 4 and it’s really developing not just the reading but a sense of communication, confidence and self esteem.”

Class teachers see the benefits to the children, not least a new love of books.

Teachers, asked to evaluate pupils’ improvement gave scores of 99 per cent for confidence in reading, 98 per cent for self-esteem, 98 per cent for reading performance and 96 per cent for reading comprehension.

Training to be an ARCH volunteer is a nine-hour course spread over two days.

Volunteer Maureen Swallow, who helps at St Leonard’s School, Banbury said: “It’s really rewarding and enjoyable. I look forward to my sessions.

“I’m retired. I was a nurse and then went into hotel management. I was a bit bored and saw an advertisement for ARCH and decided to offer my time. I’ve been coming to St Leonard’s since September.”

If you would like to help ARCH - Assisted Reading for Children - call 01869 320380 or email info@archoxfordshire