Reading Buddies

Sally Ridley's picture
Sat, 31/01/2015 - 17:06 -- Sally Ridley

Improve literacy and life chances

According to recent research by Save the Children, around 1.5 million children will leave primary school struggling to read by 2025, unless urgent action is taken. See full report on:

Business Reading Buddies allow primary school children the opportunity to have extra reading support which they might not be getting at home and this gives them the best opportunity to master reading before they move on to Secondary School.

Ablaze facilitates the partnering of Bristol schools with a local business and each business volunteer is then partnered with a child to read. They meet their buddy for 15-30 minute reading sessions, usually during lunchtime on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

The programme motivates children to develop an enjoyment of reading independently and with more confidence. Once a child's confidence, enjoyment and ability to read is boosted, they will be on the way to developing their full potential. Evaluations show that reading progress is accelerated through Ablaze Reading Buddy interventions and teachers acknowledge that they could not provide this individual support to so many students.

The aim

  • Develop fuller comprehension and a love of reading
  • Raise attainment in English and across the curriculum, since reading is the key skill for all subjects
  • Boost enjoyment and confidence with words, books and literature
  • Raise self esteem, confidence and social skills

Key points

  • Links volunteers from local companies with primary school children
  • Volunteers go into school on a weekly or fortnightly basis 
  • 30 minute one-to-one sessions
  • School and business operate in partnership
  • Staff from the school and business co-ordinate the scheme

How the schemes work

Ablaze provides materials to help recruit volunteers from within the business.

A company ‘adopts' a particular school identified by Ablaze and a group of business volunteers visit the school on a weekly basis, forming an on-going partnership with the pupils.

Volunteers are asked to commit to the programme for a school year (from September to July) and to attend weekly (or sometimes fortnightly) sessions at the school, each lasting about 30 minutes. These may be at lunchtimes or at another time during the school day. Each scheme is tailored to individual needs and the times volunteers are available.

Training and support:

All volunteers receive an initial two hour training session and complete an Enhanced DBS disclosure check [six weeks should be allowed for clearance].

The school and the business organise regualr review sessions which can be facilitated by Ablaze. These provide an opportunity for volunteers and school staff to see how the children are benefiting from the intervention, to share progress, discuss any difficulties and receive further guidance and support. These take place 6 weeks after commencement and ideally every 3 months, or at the end of the school year.

There is a yearly online evaluation and a celebration between the school and their business partner which can include a visit for pupils to the workplace of their reading buddies.


Business: there is no cost to the business for setting up a partnership with a local school through Ablaze. However, the business is asked to cover the cost of volunteers time & transport to and from the school for their Reading Buddy sessions. Ablaze does request a £250 donation from the company towards training costs. Reading material is provided by the school. 

School: the School is charged £250 per intervention from their PPF.  

Enhanced DBS checks are currently fully funded by Bristol City Council, so there is no charge to the business or school for these clearances.