18th March 2020

A pupil at East Wichel Primary School in Swindon who arrived from Spain at the age of seven, made “phenomenal” progress thanks to his Coram Beanstalk volunteer.

Roberto’s story was highlighted in the i paper as part of a recent campaign launched by the national newspaper which raised over £50,000 for Coram Beanstalk.

The school’s Deputy Head, Clare Hodges, told the newspaper that the support of Coram Beanstalk reading helpers makes a real impact.

"When [Roberto] first came here, he was only communicating in his home language - we were using iPads with Google Translate on,” she said. “When he wrote, we couldn’t read the words."

"Now, when you read his writing, you just wouldn’t know that there had once been a language barrier," Clare said.

According to Clare Roberto made the equivalent of two years' progress in a single year, and has now caught up with or surpassed his peers.

Roberto was supported during that time by reading helper Hilary Bowles. According to Clare, the reading sessions with Hilary transformed Roberto’s wider work and his ability to communicate with teachers and school friends alike.

“Being able to read suddenly opens opportunities in all curriculum areas,” she said.

“He was able to use the language and communicate better with the adults in school and his peers. He’s in line with his peers - there’s not a concern about his attainment or progress - and he works really hard.”

Roberto, who is now 10, said:

I liked reading with Hilary because she introduced me to lots of new books. I liked reading animal books the best. I enjoyed having time with her twice a week where I could just focus on my reading which improved a lot.

Thanks to the “exceptional” progress he has made, Clare told the newspaper that Roberto no longer works with Hilary, but his younger brother is now benefiting from her support.

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