Emma Bell is the Executive Director of Innovations for Learning, the charity that runs TutorMate, a global online reading support programme. TutorMate matches struggling Year 1 pupils with volunteer professionals from blue chip companies who use an online platform to read ‘virtually’ together for 30 minutes every week for an entire academic year. TutorMate currently operates in London, Leeds and Bradford (with plans to expand!) and is free to schools in the first year.
Nothing transforms a young life more than literacy. And, for a few young children in Years 1 and 2, the hours at home during lockdown might have been a blissful opportunity to devour books that they hadn’t previously had time to read. For many others, especially among the 380,000 UK schoolchildren who don’t own a single book, regular reading will simply have stopped when schools closed. With no daily reading record to complete, no dedicated reading time in class and no chance to share stories with others, the gains that these young children might have made in reading fluency and confidence before schools closed will have melted away.