Wednesday 4th December 2013 – Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) announces the launch of Ireland’s first nationwide business to schools reading initiative, ‘Time to Read’, at the National Library, Kildare St.
The Time to Read programme, sponsored by ESB, twins fourteen primary schools with local businesses across Ireland to give valuable reading support to 2nd class primary school children, with participant teachers already reporting a significant impact on the children’s comprehension and fluency when reading. The community based programme is part of BITC’s ongoing work to help businesses have a more positive impact on the communities in which they do business.
Volunteers from participating businesses are assigned to a primary school in their local community where they spend quality time each week reading with 7 and 8 year old children. Businesses that participate in and support the scheme include some of Ireland’s leading companies, including: ESB, KPMG, Irish Life, Elavon, Bord Gáis Networks & Bord Gáis Energy, Ballina Beverages, Citi, Workday, Inishowen Engineering, Abbott Diagnostics, élan, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, Dulux and Office Depot.
Commenting on ESB’s sponsorship of this important literacy programme, Pat O’Doherty, Chief Executive of ESB said:
“The Time to Read initiative exemplifies ESB’s commitment to improving educational outcomes as part of our overall social responsibility programme. As a leading Irish employer, we want to see children have the best educational start so that they can reach their full potential. This not only helps to address disadvantage and bring about more equal opportunities, it also lays the foundations for the skills we need in the future. Literacy is a critical building block in developing other skills, and the Time to Read programme is a very practical and effective way to match the needs of young readers with the skills of organisations throughout the country”. Feedback so far from the companies involved in the Time to Read programme indicates that employees are gaining a huge amount from their participation in the programme, including improving their own listening skills *(63% of volunteers), improving their communication skills and their interpersonal skills. The programme is further helping the companies engage with their staff.”
A recent *OECD Survey indicates that about 1 in 6 Irish adults have literacy difficulties and are unable to understand basic written text. The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., addressing launch attendees from participating schools and companies commenting on the reading initiative said:
“The National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy is a key pillar of the Programme for Government and the ‘Time to Read’ initiative fits very well with it. It is the government’s belief that no child should leave school unable to read and write. The support provided through this programme by the participating businesses across the communities of Ireland to primary school children at this stage in their education may help hugely as they develop the necessary skills for life-long reading.”
BITCI’s 2012-2013 **‘Time to Read’ Evaluation Report indicates that 99% of participating teachers felt that the programme’s aim of improving fluency and comprehension amongst the children was exceeded. The report further indicated that all the children enjoyed the experience and wanted to read more as a result.
A child participant commenting on their experience in the Time to Read programme stated:
“The Time to Read volunteers make it fun. They gave us a good time and they let me read loads of books. I didn’t really like reading before Time to Read, but now I do. The volunteers are fun to be with.”
Business in the Community Ireland is a network of Ireland’s biggest companies dedicated to corporate responsibility. It also manages a number of social inclusion programmes such as the Schools’ Business Partnership. The Schools’ Business Partnership is an education inclusion programme that twins schools with business in order to improve school completion rates for students and enhance the overall educational experience for students, principals and teachers. ‘Time to Read’ is the most recent programme to be developed and piloted by BITCI. Due to the success of the ‘Time to Read’ pilot scheme for both the children and companies involved, BITCI is rolling out the programme nationally in the hope that more companies will come on board.
*The OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a major new international survey of adult skills. 24 countries, including Ireland, took part in the survey. Ireland had the third highest response rate of participating countries at 72% with almost 6,000 adults (5,983) between the ages of 16 and 65 responding to the survey. The published report is available at http://bit.ly/16PxDvd
**Business in the Community Ireland’s – Time to Read Evaluation Report 2012 – 2013
For further information and all media enquiries please contact Barbara Gormley at email – firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone – 018743821/0867808762
Pictured above: From Left to Right: Robyn Maher & Ellie Spain from St Patrick’s Girls National School, Ringsend with Pat O’Doherty, CEO, ESB at the Launch of ‘Time To Read ‘ – Ireland’s first Business to School reading initiative at the National Library, Kildare Street.
Second image from Left to Right: Germaine Noonan, Schools Business Partnership Manager, BITCI, Robyn Maher & Ellie Spain from St Patrick’s Girls National School, Ringsend with Pat O’Doherty, CEO, ESB.