Employees volunteer to commit to weekly online reading sessions to support literacy for primary school children.
BE Offices is partnering with Innovations for Learning/TutorMate to take part in their virtual reading scheme that enables employee volunteers to donate their time to transform a child’s life chances. TutorMate pairs corporate volunteers across the UK with disadvantaged children aged 5-7 years old, who need vital reading support.
Reading volunteers use a specialist web-based platform and voice connection to link from their workplace to a child on a dedicated classroom laptop. Each volunteer reader ‘meets’ with the same child for just 30 minutes a week, during the school day, throughout the academic year. The adult-child pair read stories and play games that build fluency, phonics, comprehension and most important of all, foster a joy of reading and confidence in doing so.
Interventions such as TutorMate are vital in supporting primary school children from socially deprived areas of the UK. Even before the pandemic, a shocking 36% of primary school children from disadvantaged backgrounds were leaving school aged 11 unable to read at the required level for starting secondary school, immediately putting them at a disadvantage for the rest of their academic careers. A child who can read is set up for life. Not just because they will do better at school and have better job prospects, but also because they are happier and more confident about their place in the world.
Eight volunteers from BE Offices, Headspace Group and &Offices, based in our Belfast, Southampton, Victoria, Threadneedle Street and Barbican business centres, have already started volunteering their time weekly to support this fantastic initiative.
Commenting on her first volunteering session BE’s Community & Events Manager, Michelle Winton said: “I’ve just finished my first TutorMate session with my student and I’m excited to say that we both thoroughly enjoyed the class! We started off the session getting to know each other, and then she correctly read some flashcard words and chose two stories to read to me. I was very impressed with her reading ability and we both had fun discussing the stories! We played a few word games at the end. The time raced by and we are now both looking forward to next week’s class! TutorMate is such an inspiring platform, I’m so pleased to be involved with this project!”
PR & Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Julie Tucker said of her session: “What a wonderful way to spend 30 minutes. It was absolute joy to read with my new little reading buddy, on such a brilliant platform. So rewarding and uplifting. I can’t wait for our next session.”