Bristol sets sights on reading volunteers for every child who needs one

Hundreds of primary school pupils could benefit from extra support with their reading as a new search for more volunteers to help out in schools is launched.

The appeal is run by Bristol’s Reading in Schools Consortium*, a partnership organised by the council which brings together different organisations who all recruit volunteers to read in schools.

Last term over 250 people from all across the city volunteered in 50 schools, but now sights are being set even higher. Bristol’s Mayor Marvin Rees wants to make sure there’s a reading volunteer for every child who needs one and that means 300 additional volunteers are needed.

New training sessions for volunteers interested in taking part will be held in central locations throughout the autumn on Thursday 6 September, Thursday 25 October and Wednesday 28 November and cover everything from helping children read for enjoyment to assessing a child’s progress in learning to read. Training sessions are also being held throughout next year.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said:

“If a child can’t read well when they leave primary school it can have a big impact on that individual’s life, so this reading programme is about giving pupils an extra boost. This approach has been proven to work and is going from strength to strength so I hope that with the help of local people we’ll soon reach our target of having a volunteer for every child in need of a little extra support. Our Learning City Partnership Board has made reading a priority for the coming year. Building on the strong foundations of the Reading Recovery Programme and Open the Door for Reading, we aim to create a city where every child’s a reader.”

Support is targeted at schools most in need or without easy access to volunteers.

Dominic Murphy, volunteer programme coordinator, said:

“Our volunteers play a huge role in improving not only children’s reading, but their confidence and how they express themselves. It’s important to remember that reading practice shouldn’t end in the classroom and we need families and carers to be encouraging children to read at home too. Reading is one of the most important gifts you can give a child as it opens so many doors.”

Volunteers are recruited and trained to deliver ten sessions of reading support, working with two 6-7 year olds each week. Evidence shows that children tend to make around six month’s improvement within the ten week period.

For more information and to register interest visit: or send an email to

*Bristol Reading Consortium is made up of representatives from Ablaze, Alive, Beanstalk, Bristol Ageing Better, Bristol City Council, City of Bristol College, Jacari, RSVP West, University of Bristol and University of the West of England.