Bury St Edmunds: Grandparents urged to join reading campaign

Guildhall Feoffment Primary School in Bury are encouraging parents and grand parents to read with th

Guildhall Feoffment Primary School in Bury are encouraging parents and grand parents to read with their children. Left to right, head Sue Herriott, Beatrix Widner, Holly Seiler, James McDollel, Robert Everitt, Matthew Baker. McDollele - Credit: Gregg Brown

An initiative to support children’s reading while increasing family engagement with schools has today been launched in west Suffolk.

The Love to Read Campaign is calling for grandparents with free time to go into primary schools, middle schools and upper schools across St Edmundsbury to read with pupils.

The scheme, spearheaded by Robert Everitt, Mayor of St Edmundsbury, headteachers from the Bury Schools Partnership and supported by the East Anglian Daily Times and Mercury series, mirrors a similar initiative in Forest Heath that sees volunteers spend 500 hours reading with children each month.

Mr Everitt said: “It would be a fantastic thing to have as many grandparents as possible to come into schools and support children and encourage them to read so they can enjoy it later in life.

“By asking for grandparents we’re aiming at an age group that’s potentially got time available during the working day, but that’s not say parents and other people shouldn’t come forward.”

Sue Herriott, headteacher of Guildhall Feoffment Community Primary School and member of the Bury Schools Partnership, said: “Literacy is fundamental to children’s academic learning and we also want children to enjoy reading and we know that the more they read the more fluent they become and the easier it gets.

“What grandparents can do is improve that fluency and improve the comprehension.”

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It is hoped the Love to Read Campaign will also result in families forging closer relationships with schools in their community.

Mr Everitt said: “Certainly, that is an element. The campaign is there initially to encourage grandparents to come into schools but if they then enjoy what they are doing, you can enhance that by encouraging them to get involved with other things.

“It’s a great way of encouraging parents and grandparents to come into a school on a regular basis.”

He added: “In Newmarket when they did a scheme like this they had 75 volunteers come forward. They now have 50 regularly coming into schools. That is 500 hours a month of grandparents going into schools to support children reading.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer their time should email robert.everitt@stedsbc.gov.uk and include if possible the school at which they would like to read.

People will then be contacted individually at a later date to be invited to a meeting in Bury St Edmunds where the programme and schools will be introduced.