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Berkshire charity to help more children with reading

Published: 24 Aug 2014 09:300 comments

A CHARITY giving youngsters extra help with reading skills is planning to expand its work in Bracknell and Wokingham.

ABC to Read, which operates throughout Berkshire, is looking to recruit a fifth field worker for the county, who would work in this area.

It comes as the charity revealed that one in eight children in state primary schools across Berkshire do not have adequate reading standards by the age of 11.

Noreen Sumra, chairwoman of ABC, based in Reading, said the problem involved all children, British-born youngsters as well as migrants.

ABC (Assisting Berkshire Children to Read) has 120 volunteers supporting at least 400 children at 70 Berkshire schools. Trained volunteers give the schools four hours a week and teach the children on a one-to-one basis. Schools allocate three children to work with each helper and pay £360 a year for each volunteer – about £3 per week per child.

Marcia Rowlinson, chief operating and development officer at ABC, said: “We are working with four schools in Bracknell. However, we are just about to take on another fieldworker for Bracknell and Wokingham and would welcome the opportunity to have our scheme in more primary schools as we are conscious that there are one in eight primary school children [in Berkshire] not at the required reading levels.”

She said research in Berkshire by ABC found that more than fifth of children thought it was embarrassing to be seen reading a book because it “was not cool”.

However, she added that low levels of literacy correlate with high levels of unemployment, over-crowded schools and households,and poverty.

Cllr Dr Gareth Barnard, Bracknell Forest Council’s executive member for children, young people and learning, called on parents to read to their children and have books at home.

He said: “Children must be inspired to read. It is a challenge, because if children leaving for secondary school do not have the required reading skills they cannot handle the curriculum. It is a tricky national situation and we are not complacent.

He added: “I cannot deny it is a concern but I have nothing but praise for the headteachers who are doing their utmost to boost results and standards.”

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