An appeal has been launched to discover new volunteers willing to assist school children in Aylesbury with their reading.
National charity, Schoolreaders, says there is increased demand for people who are available to teach youngsters to read, especially in the Aylesbury area.
Currently, hundreds of volunteers are sent to primary schools to assist children who need help catching up on their reading, by the charity.
Helpers are matched with schools, and then listen to pupils read, offering support and help where necessary.
Due to increasing demand Schoolreaders is looking for new volunteers to start next term in Aylesbury and the wider Bucks area.
Even before the pandemic, one in four children were leaving primary school unable to read to the required standard according to government data.
Additional research from the charity, conducted in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, shows that nearly three quarters of schools (71%) estimated that reading ages at Key Stage 1 (five- seven year olds) had been negatively impacted by three to six months or more.
Schoolreaders volunteers are asked to listen to children read, a minimum of once a week in term time, and to commit to an academic year.
Before the charity will send listeners to schools, they must pass a mandatory DBS check and virtual safeguarding training programme.
Jane Whitbread, founder of Schoolreaders, said: “Reading, particularly for the youngest children, has been set back enormously by the pandemic and if we don’t rally round now, we risk a
generation of children falling behind.
“Children need positive role models in the classroom and we have many schools who are desperate for Schoolreaders’ help to enable their pupils to catch up.
"Being one of our volunteers is a very positive thing to do (98% report a positive impact on their wellbeing through volunteering with us) and a way individuals can do their bit to help the next generation, making a difference to the future of children in their communities and providing a crucial supplement to classroom teaching.
“Children who leave primary school unable to read well cannot access their secondary schooling fully which is likely to affect their life chances.
"Poor reading skills hinders such simple things as reading instructions, understanding a medicine label or accessing information over the internet which so many of us take for granted. Literacy opens doors, helps learning and brings new opportunities.”
More information on the scheme is available on the Schoolreaders website here.