High school’s reading scheme success

Volunteers from the local community have been reading with over 20 S1-S3 pupils, with impressive results
Volunteers from the local community have been reading with over 20 S1-S3 pupils, with impressive results

A shared reading programme involving volunteers from the local community reading with Eyemouth High School pupils has improved literacy levels at the school.

For the past year 20 volunteers, from retired teachers to ex-military personnel, have been reading with over 20 pupils in S1-S3 and school data indicates that pupils’ reading ages have improved by at least 18 months.

“We had seen how powerful this type of programme has been in other schools and since we have such a supportive community in Eyemouth we knew we wanted to give it a try,” said Anne Renstead, school librarian who manages the programme, alongside the English department.

Research suggests that reading aloud with someone can drastically improve reading ages and comprehension. This helps pupils develop their confidence and ability to communicate and for the volunteers, they are able to build a relationship with the pupils and help them to celebrate when they have a success.

Jim Hettrick, a Rotary Eyemouth volunteer, said: “The programme has been amazing, challenging and rewarding in equal measure. The high spot for me was after completing one book that finished on a cliffhanger, I asked the pupil, who claimed to have no interest in books, “do you want to know what happens next”? Her eyes lit up and she said, “yes”. To my mind that’s progress, her reading had improved dramatically and maybe, just maybe, she will become a regular reader.”

“The scheme uses Accelerated Reading software that not only allows us to check comprehension but gives us a range of reading data we can analyse,” explained Anne Rentead.

Head teacher, Robin Chapman said: “We have a unique inter-generational partnership here which is not only helping our students read but developing their confidence and communication skills.”

The school’s Parent Council, Eyemouth Parish Church and Rotary have provided funding to replenish the school’s library stock and a successful bid to the Scottish Government ‘School Library Improvement Fund’ will focus on graphic novels - adding a different dimension for next year.