Covid-19 has highlighted the haves and have-nots in many ways, but in educational opportunities and progress in particular. Children without access to books and without enough help at home have fallen even further behind in their ability to read, providing numerous barriers to their progress, and this will result in an ever increasing gap between them and their peers whose reading is improving as expected. The challenge is how to close this gap.
An opportunity has been provided by the pandemic as it has massively highlighted this existing issue and stimulated a greater and more widespread demand to tackle this problem. An opportunity has arisen with the provision of many computers, smart phones and tablets to vulnerable families. The charity Bookmark Reading has shown the value of just six weeks of online help to children with only two 30 minute sessions a week. Moreover, many reading books have been put online that can be read for free. Why not scale this up across the country to every school? Each school would be asked to identify the children whose reading fluency has fallen behind and they can be linked up with a DBS checked ‘reading buddy’ who has undergone a basic training and can hear them read several times a week on a dedicated online platform.
This could be at school or at home. Such people could be volunteers or perhaps they could be paid. Each child could be helped intensively for 6-8 weeks and then reassessed.
The aim would be to make reading personal and enjoyable and change a child’s life for ever!