Reviving local literacy

Article date
29 September 2021

A staggering 100% of children involved with ABC to Read’s online reading programme improved their reading ability, reading confidence and general self-esteem during the past year. This according to the charity’s latest report following major adaptations to the way its volunteers engage with children as a result of the pandemic.

While face-to-face support in schools has now resumed, ABC to Read’s investment into its online programme during the pandemic continues, enabling the charity to broaden its support into more homes and helping to encourage a love of and skill in reading for even more local children.

As part of the report, 97% of partner schools agreed that because ABC to Read carries out all the recruitment, DBS checking, training and support of its volunteers, their staff’s valuable time was saved. In a season when schools are under huge pressure to bridge the gap caused by Covid-19, this support is invaluable in reviving local literacy and assisting the recovery in general education.

The charity work with primary school children who have been identified by their schools as struggling most with their reading, with many of the schools assigning their pupil premium to provide a trained ABC to Read volunteer mentor and with more than half of children working 1-2-1 with a mentor having English as an additional language. Volunteers, schools and pupils alike are delighted with the programme and are seeing immediate and tangible benefits.

“I have been really heartened by my experience with Holyport school. They really like what we do and feel we make a very positive difference to the children.” Volunteer

“Verity [new volunteer] had her first session last week and the Teacher came out and observed that she had never heard the child talk so much as he was talking with Verity.” School

“This has had an impact on the children’s confidence and view of themselves as successful learners.” Teacher, Partner school

 “[Child] has made excellent progress in reading. She shows a much better understanding now and is able to make simple deductions and inferences.” Teacher, Partner school

“I enjoyed reading with [volunteer] as he was very nice and helped me understand lots of big words.” Pupil

Marcia Rowlinson, ABC to Read CEO, said: “Despite the extreme pressures of the last 18 months, ABC to Read has been able to provide the support our children have needed. This is fundamentally a result of our incredible supporters, who ensured we were funded, our staff and volunteer teams who have continued to work with such passion and commitment and our very supportive Board of Trustees. To all of you involved in ABC to Read’s journey, thank you so much for your hard work and support. You have changed the lives and trajectories of hundreds of local children and we are so thankful for you.”

ABC to Read works very closely with schools to ensure that the time children spend with a volunteer mentor complements their work in the rest of their school life and is designed around their specific needs. The annual statistics demonstrate that, as a result of this personalised model, children’s reading levels and general confidence can be significantly increased.

As a result of the pandemic, the demand for reading support has increased dramatically. There are spaces available for any new volunteers to take part in training and for schools to sign up to the scheme. For more information about training days or joining the scheme as a school or volunteer mentor, contact: or view further details of the volunteer opportunity here.