Why do we need Time to Read?

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

Literacy is a barometer of equality. The more equal a country is, the higher the literacy rate of its population (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2009).

Business in the Community Ireland

St. Laurence O’Toole’s CBS Primary, Dublin 1, Time to Read reading session

As Business in the Community Ireland’s (BITCI) Time to Read programme enters its second decade, more than ever, businesses need to commit to addressing unmet literacy needs in primary schools. Our mission for Time to Read has always been to help children realise their potential through the joy of reading while providing an impactful volunteer opportunity for businesses. Read on to find out why we want you to join our mission.

Why do we need literacy programmes like Time to Read?

Following the aftermath of Covid-19 school closures and absenteeism, the gap has widened in cultural capital in areas of disadvantage, hence bringing additional supports and books into these homes is pertinent. Not only have pupils’ literacy skills been affected due to disruptions, but also their socialisation, peer interaction, and well-being. We need to engage the business community’s support, in particular during this crucial recovery time for pupils in DEIS schools so that the loss of learning can be tackled and literacy outcomes can be maximised with programmes that provide a sense of fun for the children involved.

You might be inspired by this fact: In 2002 the OECD reported that reading enjoyment is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status. Regularly reading stories or novels outside of school is associated with higher scores in reading assessments (PIRLS, 2006; PISA, 2009). So, Time to Read, which is all about fostering reading for pleasure can really be transformational for the children who take part. It can help to transcend the socio-economic barriers that many children still face.

What do our participating companies say?

We ask Sarah McNamee, Davy who has been participating in the programme with O’ Connell’s CBS Primary, Dublin 1 since 2014.

“Time to Read gives people the opportunity to give something back, spend time with some truly wonderful kids and make a difference to their week.

Every year we have a waiting list of people in Davy looking to get involved in Time to Read. We get a big mix of interest from people all across the company, so it’s a great way of people getting to know others across the business.

Everyone that has taken part in the programme says it was one of the most rewarding things that they have done through work. I was lucky enough to get involved in the programme in 2018, and it’s one of the highlights of my time at Davy.

Seeing the students at O’Connell’s every Wednesday is the perfect mid-week treat. The kids genuinely appreciate you being there which goes a long way. You get a chance to see them improve over time in their reading, but also socially.

Business in the Community Ireland

Children from O’Connell’s CBS Primary, D1 visiting Davy’s offices.

The trip to the office was unforgettable, everyone in Davy, whether they are part of the programme, or not, look forward to the boys from O’Connell’s school spending the morning here.

The programme is very well organised by both BITC and O’Connell’s school so there is nothing to worry about, it is just a really lovely enjoyable experience for everyone involved and a partnership we would like to keep going for years to come”.

What have we achieved so far?

  • 3600+ children have received one to one or paired reading support
  • Supporting DEIS schools and raising awareness of literacy levels
  • Developing new innovative models of delivering Time to Read virtually
  • Offering volunteering opportunities for employees. Over 3700 volunteers have taken part in the programme since its inception

“This year more than any other year the programme had a significant impact on the children as it enabled them to engage remotely with their volunteers. For some children this might have been the only engagement with learning or with the school in the week.” –Teacher, 2020-21

What do we need now?

BITCI believes in providing access to literacy supports through the Time to Read programme for all children in DEIS schools nationwide. We have a collective social responsibility to promote and take action for social inclusion for every child in Ireland. If you would like to strengthen the partnership approach to supporting education in our communities and participate in this highly impactful programme with a local school, please get in touch with Germaine Noonan or Aisling O’ Brien.

*Source: Wilkinson, R., and Pickett, K. (2009). The spirit level: Why more equal societies almost always do better. London: Allen Lane.

Article written by Aisling O’Brien, BITCI