Support for paired reading

9th May 2008 at 01:00
Schools interested in launching paired reading schemes can tap into materials adapted from the Scotland Reads pilot, which ends this year
Schools interested in launching paired reading schemes can tap into materials adapted from the Scotland Reads pilot, which ends this year.

Scotland Reads is described by Louise Ballantyne, literacy development officer at Learning and Teaching Scotland, as former First Minister Jack McConnell's baby.

The initiative, launched in 2004, trains volunteers aged 16-25 as tutors who go into primary and secondary schools to help develop the reading skills of children who are struggling. The tutors help the youngsters to choose books that interest them and read aloud with them at their pace.

The programme is running in 11 local authorities and has 65 volunteers and 700 pupils who benefit, but it is scheduled to end in June. So rather than have it "die a death", Ms Ballantyne is keen to ensure it continues and even expands beyond the pilot authorities. To that end, a trainer manual with everything a school needs to set up a scheme is being made available.

The manual recommends training over three sessions and gives step-by-step instructions as to what should happen at each stage. A PowerPoint presentation is included and a DVD to let trainee tutors see paired reading in action. Photocopiable materials include a paired reading progress diary and slips to update parents about their children's progress.

Project Scotland, the full-time volunteering scheme for young people, provided tutors for the pilot. Local authorities could tap into that, suggests Ms Ballantyne, or they could train parents, S5 and S6 pupils or volunteers from the local community.

Paired reading works because it improves pupils' confidence and gives them the extra attention they need, she says. "Many of the pupils don't get the one-on-one attention they need at home and, in a class of 30, it's not always possible for a teacher to give them the time they need to flourish.

"Paired reading also brings on pupil motivation. Many of the children who have taken part did not perceive themselves to be readers - now they do."

E L.Ballantyne@LTScotland.org.uk.

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