17 October 2023
West Riding Freemasons support Chapter One in Doncaster primary schools
Six hundred school children in disadvantaged communities of Doncaster will receive individual reading support from Chapter One over the next three years thanks to a grant from Yorkshire, West Riding Freemasons
The £47,000 grant will support the Chapter One online reading volunteers programme which matches struggling early readers aged 5-7 with volunteers from local and national companies to give vital reading practice and support. The pairs meet virtually for 30 minutes every week for the whole academic year. Together they read stories and enjoy a range of word activities designed to build reading enjoyment, fluency and comprehension. Chapter One provides a laptop and headset for each classroom which then links, via a voice connection, to the volunteers.
In 2022, 38 per cent of 11-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds in England left primary school each year not reading to the expected standard. The pandemic had a devastating impact on these children, widening the attainment gap between them and their more advantaged counterparts. The challenges that disadvantaged children and their families face are now being exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis, with learning and attainment likely to be further affected.
Doncaster Council’s Education and Skills Strategy 2030 states that reading is the biggest area of challenge for the city, with the proportion of pupils meeting the expected standard currently well below the national average. Doncaster currently ranks 146th out of 151 Local Authorities for this measure. In 2021/22, 32.4 per cent of children in Doncaster were living in poverty, against a UK rate of 27 per cent. The government has named Doncaster as one of the 55 Education Investment Areas announced in the Levelling Up White Paper to raise school standards.
Below: One of Yorkshire, West Riding’s leading Freemasons Chris Allen sitting in on a Chapter One online reading session with a Year 2 student from Doncaster’s Hill Top Academy.
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