Annual Report 2019
The Norfolk Reading Project held its AGM on 16th October and was well-attended by committee members and volunteers. Minutes will follow shortly. Project chair Anne Thorley delivered the annual report as follows:
Unfortunately many children who live in disadvantaged areas leave school unable to read well and this can impact on every aspect of life. Illiteracy can have an effect on health, both physical and mental, with children born in communities with the most serious literacy challenges having some of the lowest life expectancies in England. The National Literacy Trust has found that children who enjoy reading and writing are happier with their lives and are three times more likely to have good mental well being.
Recent evidence has shown that poorer children benefit most from the latest method of teaching using synthetic phonics. Other approaches rely on existing child vocabulary and life experiences. Phonics helps to put children on a level playing field.
The Norfolk Reading Project was established to support pupils to develop their literacy skills using volunteers with phonics training In the past year we have received very positive feedback from schools where our volunteers are working hard to raise expectations and improve lifetime opportunities.
We have been working with the Keystone Development Trust to provide "Read and Feed" sessions for children on the Abbey Farm Estate in Thetford. We also ran a training session to provide Reading Support Volunteers directly to the Thetford primary schools. Thetford, along with Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn, have been identified as areas with lower literacy levels and we are focusing on ways to provide further support.
It costs TNRP aroud £50 to get a Reading Support Volunteer into school including training, DBS checking and provision of books. Ludham Primary School raised an amazing £778 for us by organising a Sponsored Reading Challenge for their pupils. These young children appreciated the importance of learning to read and wanted to help support other children by providing better resources in school. We have been fortunate to receive funding from the Almary Green Charity Awards, £968, and also from the Morgan Trust in King's Lynn which donated £1000 to help fund the continuation of our support for local schools. We are very grateful for all the funding and donations that we receive and would like to thank everyone who has contributed in any way to our fundraising efforts over the year.
This year we have been able to offer the first of a continuing programme of workshops for our volunteers. Speech and Language Therapist Emma Cane delivered an excellent and informative presentation which will be repeated later in the year. Other sessions are planned to cover topics which will help our volunteers to feel more confident when working with the children.
We continue to receive considerable support from Norfolk Library Services and have been working with the Norfolk Reading Pathway to raise our profile and try to recruit more volunteers through the network of libraries across the county. TNRP is very grateful for their continued support and would like to thank all the staff involved.
The impact of additional opportunites for children to practise reading is unquestionable. As one teacher said: "Without our volunteers we really could not achieve half as much as we do." As a charity we would achieve nothing without our volunteers, and we now have around 150 Reading Support Volunteers in schools across Norfolk but with new schools looking for support we will always need more.
So finally, a huge thank you to all our wonderful volunteers - we couldn't do it without you!