Volunteers plug primary gap

A new version of the paired reading initiative has been launched this week, using volunteer gap-year students to work one-to-one with pupils to support their reading skills.

The Scotland Reads initiative is modelled on a successful US project that Bill Clinton described as his "biggest achievement" as president.

It will involve youngsters aged 16-25 from ProjectScotland working initially with pupils in 20 primary and secondary schools from Angus, East Ayrshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.

Launching the pilot project at St David's Primary in Johnstone, Robert Brown, Deputy Education Minister, said: "Reading is an essential skill, which many of us take for granted. Unfortunately, some children struggle with their reading and we need to do all we can to ensure they get as much enjoyment from the written word as everyone else."

This latest move forms the second strand in the Executive strategy, building on the home reading initiative, which it believes is succeeding in encouraging many more youngsters to read at home with their families. Mr Brown said the project was intended to benefit not just the children but also the volunteers. "This is a positive and rewarding opportunity which will allow them to make a real, direct and lasting difference to children's lives," he said.

Scotland Reads will be one of the first major projects involving ProjectScotland, a pound;9 million programme launched last year by the First Minister which pays youngsters pound;55 a week subsistence allowance and gives them opportunities through full-time volunteering.

Under Mr Clinton's America Reads Challenge, set up in 1997, college and university students were paid to become pre-school tutors. Families, scout groups, children's organisations and business leaders were also recruited.

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