By Priscillia Charles
Last summer, British charities Beanstalk and Save the Children established Born to read, a literacy program aiming to improve the reading skills of pupils from the most deprived areas of the North East of England
Clare Sandford, North East and Yorkshire manager for Beanstalk, explains that “the poorer the areas, the more children are struggling with their reading." Such is the case with many areas of the north-east, which saw 3,323 pupils leaving primary school and unable to read at Level 4 at KS2. According to Sandford, children “will struggle with every subject in secondary school” if their reading ability remains under level 4.
Amongst the 166 reading helpers working with pupils is Jocelyn Elsbury, a 67-year-old former executive, who volunteers three times a week in County Durham. During the 25-minute sessions, each volunteer reads with a child on a one-to-one basis using one of the 30 books with which they have been provided.
According to Ms. Elsbury, the large cl and the lack of attention from parents at home contribute to the fact that some children feel left behind and need remedial help.
“Once the children get your confidence, they will tell you quite a lot. You become a friend, a bit of a mentor to them in some ways,” she says.
The charity, which aims to grow and work with 22,000 children by 2016, has since moved to Teesside and is expected to move to East Cleveland, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, other highly deprived areas of the north-east of the country.