Growth in our Primary School Initiatives

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

Business in the Community Ireland

Children from Queen of Angels Primary School, Dublin 16 enjoy a Time to Read session

At the beginning of 2021, an Anonymous Donor at the Community Foundation for Ireland, granted BITCI funding for 3 years to double the participation level of Time to Read and Time to Count in Ireland.   It enabled us to place a focus and energy into the growth of these superb literacy and numeracy supports.  We acquired additional expertise to recruit businesses to participate.

The pandemic had an impact on participation levels in 2020-21 and the number of programmes reduced from 54 to 37.  Some schools were unable to participate because they didn’t have the space or technology to do it virtually and some businesses were so hard hit by the pandemic that they had to step away.  The focus last summer and autumn was to re-engage with those companies and schools.  It was great to see many returning and also a host of new participants. See the full list of current participants here.

There was a focus on the professional services sector, financial services and we also approached other business networks.  Pauline McKiernan, Business Development Executive, BITCI remarked that Time to Read and Time to Count provided businesses with the opportunity to:

“lift team spirits, and bring people together in a way that makes a real difference for children in their local communities.  That’s something that employees will welcome, especially as so many people felt isolated from their colleagues and communities due to working from home for a very long time.”

We need your support

Currently, there are 58 partnerships which we hope will all continue into next autumn once again along with our aim of reaching 80 partnerships by the end of 2022.   We have a target to reach 105 by the end of 2023.  Can your business help?  Do you know business leaders who might be interested?

Literacy and numeracy skills are the fundamental building blocks for children to support their learning across all subjects.   Those children attending DEIS schools really need your help.   Companies have the resources and people to provide the ideal support.    We would love to hear from you if you could consider getting involved.   A number of businesses like Gas Networks Ireland, KPMG, ESB, and Irish Life, have been doing it every year since our pilot began in 2009.  That demonstrates the value and impact on employees and companies. Please click here for further information.

Impact on 3 Children before and After Time to Read 

Girl A (aged 7 yrs 7 months) had a reading age of 5 yrs. 9 months and now has a reading age of 7 yrs 9 months. A two-year improvement. She was reading 40 words a minute and is now reading 90 words a minute. She was in the 15th percentile and is now in the 55th percentile.

Girl B  (chronological age 7 yrs. 8 months) had a reading age of 5 years and now has one of 7 years. She was reading 22 words per minute and is now reading 39. She was in the 5th percentile and is now in the 45th percentile.

Boy C (chronological age 7 yrs. 6 months) had a reading age of 5 yrs 6 months and now has one of 6 years 4 months. He was reading 54 words/minute and is now reading 94/minute. He has moved from the 5th to the 20th percentile.

We know how much employees need to experience volunteering opportunities in their local communities and to feel connected once again to their company culture and values.  We are all entering the post-pandemic phase and Time to Read/Count are ideal vehicles for your business to engage your staff in the most tangible and fun way whilst also supporting educational inclusion and addressing disadvantages in our communities.   This is what volunteers say:

“I had heard so many good things about being involved from my colleagues. Again, this past year has been doom and gloom, and to see the kids outshine in reading just made it the most positive experience I could have imagined.”

“It was the highlight of my week, an hour of joy and energy when life at times seemed monotonous working from home full time.”

Business in the Community Ireland

Article written by Germaine Noonan, Head of Education, BITCI