Our January 2015 questionnaire, delivered to every Ratby home drew support for our idea that children should be offered opportunities to benefit from additional reading sessions; indeed this was the third most popular suggestion supported by more than 54% of respondents. A second questionnaire, targetted specifically at parents of children at Ratby Primary School demonstrated an equally-high level of interest.
We were told subsequently that a number of parents actively sought additional out-of-school help for their children, recognising the value of reading and literacy throughout their children’s lives. So we appeared to have tapped into a need that was waiting to be filled and that we could play our community part.
The sessions are mainly delivered by sixth-form students from Groby Community College as part of their ‘Community Enrichment’ initiative. Together with normal library volunteers we have seen up to 24 children benefit from having up to 90 minutes of reading practice and help.
It’s a busy afternoon for our volunteers, including those serving up tea, coffee and juices but it’s a joy to see the building full of happy faces.
The sessions are run during term-time on Tuesdays from 3:20pm to 4:30pm. Whilst the children are occupied mums and carers chat over a cuppa. The sessions are overseen by a CRB-accredited trustee.
Robert Coles, the Principal Teacher at Groby Community College has encouraged his students to make our library his students’ principle community enrichment choice and has helped us in many other ways.
At least two of the students also undertake normal volunteering duties, either for the library or for the Crow Pie Cafe. This affords them the opportunity to develop their social interaction skills with library visitors of all ages and means they can use us as a reference for any future job application.
Likewise Michelle Tobin, Deputy Head Teacher at our local Primary School has encouraged children, parents and carers to support this initiative and we thank her for that. Michelle has a busy programme of work, even outside of the normal school day but has nonetheless found time on a couple of occasions to pop across the road to assess the sessions in progress and has been happy with what she has seen.
We have been at pains to point out that we are not in the business of ‘teaching’ children to read – this is clearly the responsibility of teachers’ and parents’ but we provide a safe and welcoming environment for children to practice and hone their reading ability, whilst our volunteers make their personal contributions.
We have been told by the former library assistant that a couple of mums told her that they had noticed an improvement in their children’s reading ability as a result, they believed, of their children’s encouragement at the Tuesday sessions.
This is great news and has been passed on to the students, volunteers and senior teaching and administration staff at Groby Community College.
After the final reading support session for this acedemic year on Tuesday 14th June 6 students from Brookvale High School and Groby Community College were awarded certificates of appreciation and achievement for the work they’d carried out since September 2015 as part of the campus’ ‘Community Enrichment’ initiative.