University supporting literacy skills through reading buddies and new books for schools

University volunteers at Uplands Junior L.E.A.D Academy (Credit: University of Leicester)

Volunteers from the University of Leicester have donated boxes full of brand-new books to local primary schools.

It is part of a wider scheme that sees one hundred school-based volunteers support pupils at Uplands Junior L.E.A.D Academy and Mayflower Primary School with their reading.

The National Literacy Trust’s Annual Literacy Survey found that the number of children who say that they enjoy reading is in decline, with reading for pleasure at its lowest level in 18 years.

The survey also found that less than half of eight to 18-year-olds said that they enjoyed reading, the lowest level since 2005.

University of Leicester volunteers have invested 375 hours so far this academic year.

Alongside supporting children’s reading, the volunteering team has also organised one-off activities centred around Diwali, Anti Bullying Week, Chinese New Year and World Book Day.

The team launched its ‘School Reading Buddies’ project in October 2022, which sees a team of students and staff dedicate two hours a fortnight to help boost children’s confidence when they are reading.

Volunteering Project Co-ordinator Chandni Sandhu said: “For over 15 years, University of Leicester volunteers have been supporting local children with their reading in one-to-one and small group classroom settings.

“We understand how important reading for pleasure is on a child’s development, so every year we recruit motivated volunteers who can spare a little time to help others.”

Postgraduate student volunteer Frankie Lau said: “After seeing the teachers and the Teaching Assistants handling 30+ students, I learned that teaching positions are very demanding, so I am glad to be helpful to the teaching staff, no matter how small the impact might be.” 

Staff volunteer Shakila, from the School of Healthcare said: “I have found the experience very rewarding, and it has benefitted me, as I have been able to give back something to the community as the school is quite local to me.”

Headteacher Mrs Carlisle, from Uplands Junior L.E.A.D Academy, said: “Thank you for the books; they are great. The children have really benefitted from all the volunteers, and we would really like to continue our collaboration in the next academic year.” 

More information about volunteering at the University of Leicester can be found here.