The trust managing Werneth Primary School, Hathershaw College, and Oldham Sixth Form College, has launched a ‘Reading Buddy’ programme across its academies.

Students from Oldham Sixth Form College will work with students at The Hathershaw College and Werneth Primary School to help address the impact the pandemic has had on young people's reading habits.

All of the schools are part of the Pinnacle Learning Trust.

The trust hopes the programme will provide an opportunity for those students who may see reading as a challenge or who simply want to develop good reading practice.

Older sixth form students will mentor younger primary pupils, serving as a model and a guide.

The scheme has been designed to help students build their confidence in their own reading ability, as well as to stimulate dialogue around the benefits of reading and the positive effects it has on young people.

Claire Cull, assistant principal at The Hathershaw College, said: “This is such an exciting opportunity for all of the students involved. 

“It was wonderful to see our Hathershaw students engaging with the older OSFC students and to listen to the conversations that were taking place around reading and its importance. 

“I am very excited to see how this programme expands and to watch the opportunities that it creates for our young people arise from their engagement with it.”

Sarah Chandler, vice principal of Werneth Primary School said: “When I was asked to lead the Reading Buddies Programme for Werneth Primary School, I was thrilled to be given such an opportunity.  

“At Werneth, reading is at the heart of our curriculum.  We know that engaging children in reading from the beginning is one of the most important ways to make a difference to life chances.

“For this reason, children need to be continually motivated to read. Emotional engagement is the key to becoming a lifelong reader.

“It is clear that strong relationships are already being established between the children and their buddies; while the Werneth pupils benefit from becoming more confident readers, the sixth form students also seem to be relishing the new challenge of connecting with primary phase children, putting their training into practice and moving learning on.

“It has also been lovely to see past pupils return to give something back to their local community. Thanks to the delightful, enthusiastic Oldham Sixth Form College student volunteers, we have made a great start to the Reading Buddies Scheme.

“The buzz in the air, the laughter and smiles and the positive energy generated around reading mean that Wednesdays are now my favourite day of the week.”

Richard Lee, assistant principal at Oldham Sixth Form College said: “Oldham Sixth Form College was delighted when we were approached about the possibility of establishing a Reading Buddies scheme.

“It is such a brilliant project, as it is of huge benefit to all involved.

“First and foremost, it will help the students at Hathershaw and Werneth who need some extra guidance with their reading.

“Working with our Year 12s will, we hope, engage the pupils in Years 7/8 and Years 3/4 so they become more enthusiastic and develop a love of reading.

“It is impossible to underestimate the importance of this skill which will underpin their understanding and ability to make progress in their other subjects too.

“Secondly, the experience of working with primary and secondary students will be invaluable to our Year 12s.

“They are all students who are looking to move into caring or person-centred professions, such as teaching, nursing, social work or medicine.

“Having the opportunity to enhance their interpersonal skills will benefit them greatly and make their applications to university or for employment all the stronger.

“The Reading Buddies scheme is a wonderful project that we anticipate will continue to run into the future and go from strength to strength.”