Annual Report 2021
The Norfolk Reading Project Annual Report 2021
Delivered at The Norfolk Reading Project AGM on 8th December 2021
by TNRP Chair, Anne Thorley
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has continued to have a detrimental effect on the literacy levels of our children during 2020/2021. With many months of disrupted education, the effects of this learning loss is more evident in disadvantaged communities and our Reading Support Volunteers are providing vital help to aid with the literacy recovery of our youngest children in primary schools across the county. In Norfolk at least 1 in 4 children are leaving primary school below expected levels, the pandemic will undoubtably have made this situation worse.
As a charity providing face to face support in school, we have obviously been impacted by the school closures with our volunteers unable to access those children who needed the most help. Once the schools were able to re-open fully The Norfolk Reading Project volunteers were able to provide essential one to one support in the classroom to try to help the children catch up with their lost education. However, due to the restrictions many of the schools still felt unable to welcome volunteers back in to school this academic year preferring to wait until the start of the new term in September 2021.
Many of our training sessions had to be cancelled due to Covid -19 restrictions but between September 2020 and June 2021, with the aid of ZOOM and social distancing, we were able to provide training for 44 new Reading Support Volunteers. We would like to thank Town Close House School in Norwich for providing, free of charge, a wonderful venue for our training sessions where we were able to operate in a safe environment. These volunteers are now in schools where they have been an invaluable aid to the teaching staff – “We have been fortunate to have The Norfolk Reading Project working with our Academy for many years. The help and expertise they provide is invaluable; all the volunteers work tirelessly to support our children, they quickly get to know them and dedicate quality time enabling them to make progress in their reading. We really couldn’t do without their support!”- English Lead Tuckswood Academy.
We have been fortunate during this time to have been successful in applying for funding from various sources as it has been very difficult to run fundraising events during the pandemic. We would like to thank the following organisations for their generous support:
The Goodman’s Trust – £500 (to purchase of a projector and screen for training purposes)
The Norwich Freemen’s Trust £4000 (funding to facilitate recruitment, training and resources for 90 new Reading Support Volunteers)
Earle and Stuart Charitable Trust a donation of £1000
The Asda Foundation £300
East of England Co-op £200
These grants and donations have been essential to The Norfolk Reading Project so that we can continue to provide the schools with one-to-one reading support for their children during these most extraordinary times.
We anticipate that the need for reading support in our classrooms will continue to increase as we have been experiencing much higher levels of contact from local schools looking for trained volunteers as soon as we can provide them. Some of our older and most experienced volunteers have started to return to school and we hope that this trend continues as confidence returns. We are also hopeful that we can restart our workshops and social events shortly to promote social wellbeing for our volunteers as well as enriching their reading support abilities, these events have been impossible due to Covid-19 restrictions around social gatherings.
Some areas of Norfolk are among the worst in England for social mobility related to low literacy levels and poverty, and unfortunately, we have seen that it is these communities that have been impacted most by the pandemic. We will continue to try to address these issues of inequality through provision of more support to schools in these areas.
As always we would be unable to provide any support to the children without the wonderful Reading Support Volunteers and we must thank each and every one for continuing to give up their time to sit on small chairs in draughty corridors across Norfolk Primary Schools to improve children’s reading ability and open up opportunities for them. Reading is a vital skill which once mastered will last a lifetime!