Earlier this year when A&L Goodbody launched their CR strategy, they decided to focus their efforts and resources of their Community Programme to raising literacy levels for young people aged between 8-14 years of age. To achieve this they formed a three year partnership with Suas, an educational development organisation to roll out paired reading and intensive literacy support programmes with St Vincent’s Girls National School and St Joseph’s Co-ed National School.
As a result over 40 young people have received one-to-one mentoring from 40 A&L Goodbody employees who attended weekly reading sessions with pupils from each of the schools.
Suas released figures from its Literacy Support Programme (from the 2012/2013 school term) which show that participating students more than doubled their progress rate in literacy and reading. Supported by expert research on literacy teaching, and using assessment tools with a strong evidence base, volunteers are trained by Suas as Literacy Mentors,to provide learning and literacy support.
They show that 80% of participants in the Literacy Support Programme improved their literacy test results, 50% demonstrated improvements in learning behaviour and 50% demonstrated an increase in self-esteem. The results also show that 90% of Literacy Mentors were satisfied with the students’ engagement and would recommend this approach to service learning to a friend. The figures are a result of pre-testing and post-testing measures that Suas carried out on students who took part in the Literacy Support Programme.
The National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People, which was published in 2011, highlights the importance of community efforts in the national strategy which is outlined until the year 2020. It states “harnessing the collective effort of the wider community and other agencies has the potential to bring greater coherence and an integrated approach to the national effort to improve learning experiences and outcomes in literacy and numeracy”. Statistics show that nine thousand young people leave school before taking the Leaving Certificate every year and one in ten children in Irish schools have serious difficulty with reading. In disadvantaged schools this figure can be as high as one in three.
A&L Goodbody also partnered with BITC’s Time To Read Programme where 10 A&L Goodbody employees delivered a 24 week paired reading literacy programme in O’Connell’s CBS primary school for 10 students from 2nd class.
At the end of each literacy programme, A&L Goodbody organised a graduation for the students and mentors involved.