Beanstalk is a national charity that has been working with schools for almost 40 years to help raise literacy standards.
You may know us by our former name Volunteer Reading Help – we’ve recently changed our name but we haven’t changed the quality of our service.
If you have pupils who have fallen behind with their reading or lack reading confidence then we can offer cost-effective one-to-one reading support.
How does Beanstalk work?
We recruit, vet, train and support volunteers from your local community to become Beanstalk reading helpers in local primary schools.
You can allocate three children to work with each Beanstalk reading volunteer. They will spend 30 minutes with each child, twice a week, reading, chatting and playing games. They focus on the child’s successes and build the child’s reading confidence using a range of general literacy resources provided by us.
What's the impact of the service?
Children are selected for a variety of reasons:
They may have lack of support at home
They may have low confidence in reading
They may have English as another language
Their reading may be below the expected national curriculum level
They may have insufficient reading opportunities
They may be a Looked After Child
Each child you refer spends an hour in total each week with their Beanstalk reading helper. On average, Beanstalk reading helpers stay with the same children for three to four terms.
We ask schools to provide information on the children’s reading level at the start of the time they receive our support and each term after that so we can check their progress. We also ask for their progress the year before we start work with them so we can benchmark.
Read about our impact
How much does it cost?
It costs schools £540 per Beanstalk reading helper, per year.
Our reading helpers work with three children each so this works out to £180 per child for around 30 to 35 hours of one-to-one reading support - a great way to use your Pupil Premium allocation.
This contribution helps us meet the costs of supporting the reading volunteers and administering the scheme – we fundraise for the rest of our costs from donations and other charitable sources.
Who are the reading helpers?
Our reading helpers come from all walks of life. They are independent, committed individuals with a genuine interest in helping children achieve. We ask them to commit for at least one year and emphasise the importance of keeping up the twice-weekly visits for the children.
How are they supported?
We provide 8 hours training to our reading helpers before they start with your school and further development training in areas such as dyslexia awareness and phonics.
We ensure they have resources for their sessions which are suited to the children they’re helping by providing them with Beanstalk book boxes.
One of our staff members will visit your Beanstalk reading helper(s) in school at least once a year to observe a reading session.
We’re on the end of the telephone for them and also encourage them to network with other Beanstalk reading volunteers in their local area through our end-of-term meetings, regular book swaps, coffee mornings, etc.
To find out if we work in your area, please use our Area Office finder.
For a no-obligation conversation about your school’s needs please contact your local branch.