Listening to children read in primary schools is an essential part of a young person’s development in addition to the support provided by School staff and parents at home. Retired Teacher Julie Pescod and now a member of Caterham Rotary Club recently came up with the idea of seeking volunteers from the local community who would be prepared to get involved as listeners.

In conjunction with Helen Hammer of Tandridge Volunteer Action a scheme to find volunteers was devised and launched backed by support from Caterham Rotary Club to provide help with the administration aspects.

At the same time both Julie and Helen put together a proposition for a pilot scheme and approached St John’s Primary School in Caterham. Head Teacher Rob Veale was very keen on the idea as he saw this as an excellent initiative to add value to the School’s literacy curriculum.  Following the search for volunteer readers 5 ladies expressed interest. They received advice and guidance from Julie and had a tour of the school and then commenced listening to readers after the Easter Holidays.

Rob Veale added, “We are pleased to welcome volunteers from Caterham Rotary. Hearing pupils read is not only rewarding but will help to raise children’s achievement, complementing the work of Teachers and Teaching Assistants. The volunteers provide an enrichment for the pupils’ learning experiences whilst also bringing the local community to work together. We look forward to continuing to work with all our reading volunteers and Caterham Rotary.”

Feedback so far is encouraging and Mrs Zanaib Iftikhar one of the volunteer listeners has commented “Reading is one of the most important skills we teach our children. Reading opens the door to learning about maths, history, science, literature, geography and much more. I am happy to be a part of this reading scheme and to help children learn such an important skill.”

Overall the ladies are finding the school friendly and the children receptive. The teaching staff say that it is very rewarding to see the children talking to and engaging with other adults.

It is hoped to expand this scheme, spreading to other schools in the area in the coming months.

Photo (L to R)  Julie Pescod Caterham Rotarian with volunteer Mrs Zanaib Iftikhar listening to two young St John’s children.