We recently carried out an exclusive interview with Amy Mortimer of Reading Matters. Reading Matters is a UK-based charity and social enterprise whose goal is to help children read fluently and with confidence so that they can reach their potential. Read on to find out what Amy had to say about Reading Matters, its activities and the amazing impact the organisation is having on the lives of children and young people.
Welcome to e-Books India Amy! We’re very happy to have you join us for this interview. Could you please start off by telling us a bit about Reading Matters? When was the organisation formed and why was it created?
Reading Matters was formed in 1997 to provide schools with specially trained Reading Mentors to provide extra support to those children who had fallen behind with literacy and were therefore unable to achieve their potential.
What is your role at Reading Matters? Could you please tell us about some of your colleagues and their roles?
My role is that of Communications Manager and as such I am responsible for telling as many people as possible about Reading Matters; what we do, how people can get involved with our work and the considerable impact that our work has on the lives of children and young people.
Can you please tell us about the core activities of Reading Matters? Among others, you have two programmes called Reading Mentors and Reading Leaders. Can you please tell us about these and how they work?
Reading Mentors are adults who volunteer their time to support children with reading on a one to one basis. Their intervention, for two half hour sessions, each week over a 10 week period improves reading age by an average of 15 months and in many cases by much more.
Reading Leaders are peer tutors (older school pupils) who work with younger ones to improve their reading. We train these pupils to understand how it feels as a struggling reader, diagnose specific reading difficulties and then plan the most supportive and motivating reading sessions for younger peers. We train Reading Leaders in both secondary and primary schools, but the scheme is accredited for children aged 14 and over.
In addition to these services, we provide education staff with Continued Professional Development training and deliver workshops to parents and carers with strategies for improving literacy development at home.
Can you please tell us a bit about the impact Reading Matters has had on the lives of children and young people?
We publish an Impact Report annually which clearly shows the difference brought about by our intervention. During the last academic year we worked with 6, 417 children and young people and of those, 96% showed an improvement in reading performance. Looking specifically at reading age improvement, the average increment is 12 months after just 10 hours of support (2 x 30 minute sessions each week over 10 weeks). There are also many cases when reading age improves by as much as three or four years.
Is there any particular example of work Reading Matters has done with a young person that you’re particularly proud of?
There was a boy called Christian who started school in Yorkshire aged 12 with virtually no English language capability after moving from The Congo in Africa. He was supported by one of our Reading Mentors, twice a week for 30 minutes, to give him the best chance of catching up quickly and acquiring the necessary language skills for the secondary school curriculum. The Reading Mentor got to know Christian; he found out that Christian loved football above all else and especially Arsenal Football Club. Derek, the mentor, wrote to Arsenal and asked them to help him encourage Christian to read by sending him materials (match programmes, letters from the players etc.) which he could use in the reading sessions. The plan worked! Derek didn’t exclusively use football-themed resources with Christian but they were particularly appealing and motivated him to read other things too. Christian’s reading age improved by over three years in a term and he was soon at the level required to do well in his GCSE exams. Even better, in year 10 Christian became a Reading Leader in school and a positive role model to younger pupils who found reading a challenge.
In what ways can people get involved with the activities of Reading Matters and support your organisation?
There are many different ways to get involved and improve outcomes for young people. Businesses can sponsor our work in schools or community centres or buy tickets and donate prizes for our Fundraising Gala Dinner on 14 May 2016. We are always looking for adult volunteers in West and South Yorkshire to become Reading Mentors and support children with reading in schools. If people would like to make a donation they can through this website: www.justgiving.com/Reading_Matters.
How can people find out more about Reading Matters?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hv1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of eBooks India. He is also a prolific eBook writer with over 25 titles to his name.[/author_info] [/author]