Making a marked difference;Basic skills;Viewpoint;Opinion

4th June 1999 at 01:00
American Express's reading programme in the Brighton community of Whitehawk (an education action zone) came about after I attended Business in the Community's "Seeing is Believing" day in1997. It involved taking people out from local businesses to see another side of Brighton and its communities. It left a deep impression.

The scheme kicked off in the winter of that year and was designed to help young children.

Working closely with Business in the Community, Brighton and Hove Council and the schools themselves, the programme attracted more than 30 American Express employees who volunteered to spend half-an-hour a week in local primary schools reading with young children. Two schools took part in the programme, St Mark's C of E Primary and Whitehawk Infants.

American Express has just run a poster campaign to recruit new volunteers and has received more than 50 enquires. This has enabled us to start in a new school, St John the Baptist RC Primary, this month.

Linking with the literacy hour, the benefits of the programme are two-fold. Children's skills and confidence are improved at a crucial age, and it motivates American Express employees.

A recent OFSTED inspection found that standards at St Mark's have improved significantly and the school has now been taken out of special measures. That is a credit to the headmaster and the staff, and it's nice to know that the volunteers in the American Express reading programme have contributed to this achievement.

Zoran Novakovic Head of American Express' European cardmember services

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today