I READ Research Focus (TES, January 21) on volunteers in the classroom with interest, as here in Derbyshire we are about to train our 800th literacy volunteer.
Our experience, including an annual evaluation based on reading scores, teacher feedback and parental views, is that literacy volunteers do make a real difference to children.
The average gain in reading age for a key stage 2 pupil is 8.5 months over 10 weeks; at key stage 3 it is 12 months. Our initial findings are that these gains areretained, although we have some way to go before we have any reliable data.
Read On Write Away! volunteers are given training both in choosing and levelling books as well as specific reading strategies.
Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that volunteers need good quality training for longer than one day, continuing training opportunities and the full support of schools and teachers.
Director of Read On Write Away!