"It's the best thing I've done" - Graham Crisp shares his experience as a Peterborough Reading Buddy

08 Apr 2019
Peterborough Reading Buddy

The Reading Buddies scheme is part of the Vision for Reading in Peterborough, launched in January 2018. The vision establishes reading as a priority for everyone, outlining how the city can work together to ensure that every child in Peterborough enjoys reading and can read well.

Reading Buddies will receive full training to enable them to support reading at a local primary school. This could involve providing one-to-one support for children struggling with reading by sharing books, talking about stories and listening to the children read. There are currently over 140 Reading Buddies trained and volunteering in 21 schools in Peterborough. 22 school staff have been trained to enable them to provide in-house training to parent volunteers.

No previous experience is required to become a Reading Buddy; volunteers could include parents, business professionals, students, sports coaches or Peterborough residents who are passionate about making a difference to literacy levels in their local area.

Graham Crisp, aged 61 ¾, has been volunteering at Hampton Hargate Primary School for the last few months.

“It’s the best thing I’ve done.

I am sure that many of my family and friends are getting a wee bit tired of hearing this from me - but - being a Reading Buddy at Hampton Hargate Primary School really IS the best thing I’ve ever done!

Why? Well, primarily, it is all about the children. I’ve had the genuine fortune to have up to ten children read with me and I can honestly say that each one has been great. Yes, their reading abilities varied, but I could sense that they all wanted to improve and it is so satisfying to have the opportunity to help them develop their reading skills.

I will soon be commencing my fourth term at the school and I can honestly say that I have never encountered one single negative session.

From my first visit and tour of the school all of the staff has been very friendly and welcoming and it wasn’t long before I felt part of the school. Just prior to Christmas I held a couple of my reading sessions during the rehearsals of the Year Two Christmas show. This made me keen to see the finished performance and I was delighted when the school allowed me to come along and watch with some very excited parents!

Would I recommend becoming a Reading Buddy? You bet I would, so what are you waiting for? There is a school near you that has children ready to read!”

One of the children Graham worked with, a pupil in year two, said: "I enjoyed reading with Mr Crisp and Mrs Cashman because I get to read aloud and talk about what is happening." Year 2 child.

Estella Todisco: Reading Recovery Teacher from Hampton Hargate School, said:

“Over the years, we've had many parent volunteers, but also former governors and employees who come in week after week who give up their time to listen to children read. Not only do the children benefit from the vast experience that these adults bring, but the attention and interest these adults show, builds the children's confidence enormously.

The council's 'Vision for Reading,' which was launched last year, gave our school the impetus to contact parents again. We were able to offer any new volunteers Reading Buddy' raining, which was carried out by the council's School Effectiveness Team. This has led to a further eight new Reading Buddies being added to our existing team of adult volunteers. Graham had no previous link to our school and was put in touch with us having attended the training. His enthusiasm and commitment has been noted by all who come into contact with him. We are so grateful to him and to all our volunteers.”

Anyone interested in becoming a Reading Buddy should email sally.atkinson@peterborough.gov.uk.