Student 2nd place

Kyna Ho and Reihaneh Farzinnia, School of Environment, Education and Development

Reading Mentors is a student-led widening participation project that supports primary school pupils to become confident and competent readers. Kyna and Rehanenh recognise that difficulty reading is a significant barrier to engagement across all subjects and can negatively affect children’s comprehension and confidence over the course of their school career if left unaddressed. Ultimately, poor reading skills can negatively impact academic attainment and prevent young people from obtaining the grades required to pursue higher education. 

To address this, they have established a long-term partnership with Medlock Primary School to deliver tutoring sessions in which children read aloud to a small group before completing supplementary comprehension exercises. The small-group format minimises the embarrassment of reading aloud and ensure participants can benefit from direct, individualised support from Kyna, Reihaneh, and their team of five volunteers. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the co-leaders and their team seamlessly transitioned to online delivery, producing some 117 videos of volunteer-read bedtime stories and corresponding guided literacy activities. These digital resources can be used flexibly by children and their parents as a literacy resource and simply a bedtime story to help calm children during a seriously disrupted period in their early education. 

The co-leaders oversee all aspects of the project and have demonstrated an ability to expertly balance a wide range of responsibilities from event planning and coordination, volunteer management, budgeting, promotion, and stakeholder communication. This year the volunteers have tutored 28 Year 5 pupils between them.