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Successful start for Beanstalk's volunteer reading helpers

A scheme which places trained volunteer reading helpers in primary schools to help children with their reading is celebrating a successful start – with even more pupils set to benefit in 2018. 

Since the summer, national charity Beanstalk, which is working in partnership with the Get Norfolk Reading campaign, has trained 21 reading helpers who have been regularly reading one-to-one with more than 50 pupils in 12 primary schools in the county. 

Even more children will be given one-to-one help with their reading next term (usually through two 30-minute sessions per week) as a further 3 Norfolk schools have recently joined the scheme and 10 more newly-trained volunteers are ready to be placed in schools.

Data from Beanstalk, which supports more than 12,000 children nationwide each year, shows that the approach is successful in accelerating learning and helping those who have fallen behind in their reading.  75% of Key Stage 1 children previously classed as ‘below’ the recommended reading level had improved, according to Beanstalk Reading Records.[i]

Impact data also shows that children who have worked with Beanstalk volunteers gain more enjoyment from reading, with 94% of children having an increased enjoyment of reading after receiving this support.

In addition to Beanstalk’s work with young readers who need most support, the Get Norfolk Reading campaign has been promoting a love of reading through reading-related competitions which are open to all Norfolk primary school pupils.  

Reading volunteer Lucy Mole, from Ridlington, near Happisburgh, has been working one-to-one with three pupils at Bacton Primary School since September.  Lucy says:

“It’s been absolutely amazing.  The school have been really welcoming and the feedback from the teachers has been really positive and motivating.  To hear from the teachers that the children were shy and not so confident before, and that thanks to this one-to-one time they have improved not only in their reading but in their confidence, that they’ve improved in all areas, it’s really lovely.”

Ginny Lunn, Chief Executive Officer at Beanstalk, said:

“The Get Norfolk Reading partnership has been a fantastic initiative to be a part of so far and the support that has been shown by the local community has been incredible. Having that extra time each week to practise, get individual support and have fun with books and games is sometimes all a child needs to become a confident reader and it’s wonderful to see that so many children in the county are already benefitting from this. The work now continues to recruit more volunteer reading helpers so we can help reach even more children in Norfolk. If you would like to get involved please do get in touch with Beanstalk.”

Dick Palmer, Chief Executive of the TEN Group, which launched the Get Norfolk Reading campaign in February, commented:

“Our aim in setting up Get Norfolk Reading was to make a real difference for children’s literacy in our county.  We are proud to have played a part in bringing Beanstalk’s proven model to Norfolk.  To have got 15 schools on board and more than 30 volunteers trained so far is a fantastic start.  Thanks to Beanstalk and their growing number of trained volunteers, dozens of children in Norfolk are already being supported to improve their reading skills and, we hope, develop a lifelong love of reading.”

For more information about becoming a trained reading volunteer helper with Beanstalk, visit

[i] Beanstalk, Our Year in Review and Impact Report, 2015-16. Available at