Reading mentors are an invaluable resource for many schools in supporting children to read well. The Department is currently providing funding to Volunteer Reading Help (VRH); a charitable organisation which recruits, trains and places volunteers to give one-to-one help twice a week to children aged 6-11 years who find reading a challenge. Currently VRH has around 2000 volunteer readers working with around 5,000 children.
For a minority of young children with significant literacy difficulties an intensive intervention delivered by specialist teachers is needed if they are to be able to read and access the wider curriculum. Every Child A Reader does this by placing highly skilled Reading Recovery teachers into schools to provide intensive one-to-one or small group support to children most in need. Every Child A Reader will be rolled out nationally, benefiting over 30,000 children a year by 2010-11.
Estimates from a nationally representative sample survey in 2004 (The Deployment and Impact of Support Staff in Schools) indicated that there were 4,539 full-time equivalent learning mentors in schools in England and 24 in Wales. These are paid support staff who worked in the school (including in the provision of extended services for pupils) whether employed by the school, local authority or other body, but not unpaid volunteers or other unpaid helpers. A further survey was conducted in the spring term 2005-06 and updated figures will be published later this year.