YOUNG bookworms have improved their reading skills with the help of visitor volunteers.
Employees from the Gentoo Group took part in the Reading in Schools project from January.
They supported city schoolchildren on a one-to-one basis to improve their reading and literacy skills.
The programme, which was implemented at the Venerable Bede School, Ryhope, is claimed to have achieved excellent results, with one child’s reading-age level improving by five years.
Louise Crosby, literacy co-ordinator at the secondary school, said the transformation seen in pupils since they started working with the volunteers was “remarkable”.
She said: “The programme has enhanced their confidence, as well as their skills – and in some cases, we have seen pupils who started out with a fear of reading advance at such a rate that they are now at ease when reading out loud.
“They have made rapid progress in a short space of time, and we think this is largely down to the bond the pupils have formed with their volunteers.
“They even keep asking when the volunteers are coming back. I think it’s brilliant that Gentoo is giving something back to the community in this way.
“Strong reading skills boost self-esteem, underpin academic achievement, and can lead to a lifelong interest in literature. You can’t really put a price on that.”
Caroline Gitsham, director of Gentoo Living, said: “Gentoo values the importance of cultivating a learning curiosity, and our Reading in Schools project has been a fantastic example of the passion Gentoo has to enable our future generations to realise their full potential.
“We are extremely proud to work with Venerable Bede on this project, and we look forward to working with more schools and pupils during the next academic year.”
For more information, or for a school to be considered for participation in the reading project, contact Amanda Ladner, operations manager for volunteering at Gentoo Group, tel. 525 5000.