15 January 2019

Student volunteers from Birkenhead Sixth Form College have been giving their time to help schoolchildren progress with their reading skills in a programme that has already yielded overwhelmingly positive results.

More than a dozen first and second year students are involved in the ‘Reading Buddies’ scheme, which sees sixth formers head to The Birkenhead Park School to give one-to-one help to Year 7s who may have been struggling with their reading abilities.

Before taking part, the College students received training in phonics, etymology, predicting text and making inferences so they could offer the best possible support to their younger counterparts in once a week 30 minute sessions. The pairings study texts that have been specially selected to support the Year 7s’ progress, and the benefits are already showing.

Some of the results show improvements of up to a year and seven months in reading age, which is the barometer used to determine reading abilities.

The College students involved in the ‘Reading Buddies’ programme signed up to volunteer through our dedicated Student Engagement Officer, Jordyn Layfield, who coordinates the College side of the scheme. As well as the experiences gained through the mentoring, teaching and training, each of the students comes away from the programme with an enhanced CV for university, apprenticeship or employment applications.

Second year Abi Ramanusam is one of the College students taking part and she said: “It’s been fun and rewarding. The kids are full of energy and it’s a nice way to start the week doing the sessions on a Monday morning. I’ve been able to see the progress that they’ve been making and it does make you really proud.

“It’s also really good for my personal statement for UCAS so it’s been a great experience for everyone involved.”

Head of the programme at The Birkenhead Park School, Miss Dawes, said: “Reading Buddies is going really well and all the students taking part have increased their reading ages significantly from September. The scheme will now be extended to support as many Year 7 students as possible.”

For more on clubs, societies, activities and volunteering at Birkenhead Sixth Form College, click here.