Coram Beanstalk appeals for volunteer reading helpers to support children in “high demand” areas and combat learning loss this summer

  • 11 August 2022

Coram Beanstalk is calling for volunteers to come forward this summer to train as reading helpers and support primary school children with their reading from next term. Volunteers are most needed in Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Telford, as well as the London boroughs of Lambeth, Islington and Hackney.

Schools in these areas have a particularly high demand for reading helpers with many children waiting to receive vital support to not only boost their reading confidence and attainment but also inspire a love of reading.

Volunteer reading helper with child

In the wake of the disruption to children’s education caused by the pandemic, recent research by the Education Policy Institute found that children in the North of England and the Midlands suffered greater learning losses than those living in other regions. While learning losses in London were lower than the national average, boroughs with high levels of deprivation such as Hackney have seen greater attainment drops than more affluent boroughs.

With news that this year’s SATs results have slumped, as well as the projected summer learning loss that disproportionately affects children from disadvantaged households, Coram Beanstalk volunteer reading helpers will play a crucial role in re-engaging children in the autumn term. New volunteers can begin training anytime during the year, and those able to start now can join training in August or September to be ready to start working with children as they begin the new school year.

Amy Lewis, Head of Coram Beanstalk, said: “Our volunteers are the face and heart of Coram Beanstalk, we really value the time they give to the children we exist to help. We love to hear of the fun they have in school and are delighted that 98% of our volunteers would recommend us to a friend. If you’re thinking of joining us, go for it!”

Schools that partner with Coram Beanstalk are also clear about the benefits volunteers bring. Caroline Smith from Middlefield Primary in Liverpool praised the dedication of volunteer reading helpers and their ability to get children excited about reading: “Fully trained, professional in manner and all have lovely dispositions with our children. They provide enthusiasm and support for children who are less confident in reading and give them the self-esteem to answer and ask questions in whole classroom situations. The children constantly ask ‘when is it my reading day’ and we have a queue of children ready and willing to take part”.

For Coram Beanstalk volunteers, one of the most rewarding aspects is the rapport they develop with the children. The one-to-one relationship means that volunteers can really get to know a child and find out which books might spark their interest. Jill Pay, Chair of Coram Beanstalk and a volunteer reading helper at a school in London, said: “There is a magical relationship with the child, it’s like no other. You go into a bubble with them and everything else just disappears for the time you are with them. When I leave the children always want to know when I’m coming back.”

From application to introduction to a local school, where a match is waiting, the whole recruitment journey for new volunteers is currently averaging 30 days from application to completing training and DBS checks.

For more information on becoming a volunteer in one of our target areas, visit Coram Beanstalk’s website.