More money to combat childhood illiteracy

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A volunteer programme to combat literacy inequalities among primary school children in Scotland has been extended to include small and medium sized businesses in Angus thanks to additional funding.

Business in the Community (BITC) Scotland’s Paired Reading programme supports businesses to develop a volunteer partnership with local schools, providing reading support and positive role models for children, as well as volunteer opportunities for employees. The programme which has proven to be a huge success among larger businesses is now being rolled out among SMEs in Dundee and Angus with new funding from the Robertson Trust, the Barrack Charitable Trust and the Ernest Cook Trust.

BITC Scotland is encouraging businesses to get involved with the programme which supports volunteers to go into their local schools to spend half an hour a week reading one-to-one with children aged 7 to 11.

Figures from BITC Scotland show that one in five of the poorest children in Scotland are leaving primary school unable to read well. The Paired Reading programme helps boost confidence among young people, improves literacy, ensuring a child’s success at school and beyond is not determined by their social background.

One of the first schools in the area to benefit from the programme is Wardykes Primary, in Arbroath.

Jane Wood, MD for Business in the Community Scotland, said: “Business in the Community Scotland is delighted to be extending our Paired Reading programme to SMEs in Dundee and Angus to ensure more children benefit from one-to-one support to help boost literacy levels across the whole of Scotland. We recognise that cost can be a barrier to small businesses getting involved in volunteering opportunities like this, and are delighted that with the support of our funders we have been able to remove this obstacle.

“Paired Reading is one of a number of integrated programmes which allows businesses to embrace the responsible business agenda while making a real and tangible difference to children in their local area, helping to create more sustainable communities where people can flourish.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Paired Reading programme should contact Alison Jones at Business in the Community Scotland on 0131 451 1100 or