We asked Lucy Elliott, community programme project manager at Slaughter and May, about a volunteering programme that started in the first lockdown and continues today.
“We’ve been working with Chapter One since 2020, when our in-person reading programme couldn’t run due to the pandemic. Chapter One is an online platform that connects schools and families with corporate volunteers. These volunteers spend 30 minutes reading online with the same child each week. Due to the restrictions of the pandemic, the platform was the perfect solution and enabled our volunteers to still make a meaningful impact to their community.
Due to the success of Chapter One, we’ve kept the programme going even after our in-person reading programme resumed. Literacy is crucial to social mobility, which is a key focus for Slaughter and May. The programme receives positive feedback from our volunteers, and we know that the need to support children with their reading is ever more present:
- 38% of 11-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds in England leave primary school unable to read to the expected standard (DfE, 2022); and
- three times more 6 to 7-year-olds in the UK are very low attaining readers compared with before Covid (NFER, Nov 2022).
Teachers love the platform and the benefits that it brings to the children. A teacher from our partner school said:
“We have been using Chapter One in class for nearly two years now and have found it to be fantastic! It runs itself and the children absolutely love their half an hour slot with their volunteer. The children involved in the programme have come on in leaps and bounds with their reading and confidence and I feel that Chapter One has really played its part in this!”
We recommend Chapter One for supporting children’s literacy. They onboard volunteers and processes their DBS checks and track volunteering hours and impact. In 2021/22, our volunteers gave 85.2 hours of reading support and on average the children supported progressed 4.1 reading levels by the end of the year.”