Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions by new volunteers. If you have any other questions please do get in touch with us at 020 7729 4087.

1.   What is a Beanstalk reading helper? 

A Beanstalk reading helper is a volunteer who is trained and supported by Beanstalk. Reading helpers work with children on a one-to-one basis, giving them consistent support to practise reading skills and increase confidence and self-esteem. With an emphasis on having lots of fun, together they read, play games and talk.

2.    What time do I need to commit?

Most Beanstalk reading helper support three children, seeing each for two 30 minute sessions a week in school, however we do offer flexible volunteering opportunities. Our evidence shows that regular, consistent support makes the biggest difference. Many of our volunteers stay with us for just a year but most stay for much longer.

3.    Does the role restrict reading helpers taking holidays in school time?

There is nothing stopping reading helpers taking holidays in school time, as long as the school is made aware of your absence in advance they fully understand the need for some volunteers to do this. If you think the length of time you are on holiday in school time could affect the consistency of support, speak to your area team and they will be able to advise you.

4.    How old are the children?

Beanstalk supports children between the ages of 5 and 11 (school years of Year 1 to Year 6).

5.    What books will I read with the children?

Beanstalk provides a book box for every school we support, the book box includes different styles of books, games and other resources that can be used within the sessions. There are also book exchanges organised by Beanstalk, these are an opportunity to change books to match the interest and ability of the children you are supporting.

6.    What does the training cover?

Initial training will set you up to make a strong start with the children in school using the knowledge and skills you already have. When you have started as a reading helper further training is provided that helps you to develop and enhance your support for the children.

7.    Will the school be local to me?

We aim to match reading helpers with a school no further than five miles away from their home. You will be asked about your ability to travel and the locations that are accessible to you when you submit your application and can discuss this further when we meet you.

8.    When would I start in a school?

Reading helpers start in schools all the way through the year, we are not restricted to volunteers only starting in September. Reading helpers regularly start in schools anytime from September through to July. It typically takes a month from applying until you begin in school.

9.    Do I need any qualifications or previous experience to be a reading helper?

No experience or qualifications connected to working with children are required to become a reading helper. We just need you to have a passion for working with children and giving them the best possible chance of improving their confidence and literacy, as well as being fluent in both spoken and written English. Our reading helper role description outlines in more detail what we are looking for from volunteers.

10.    How much support will we receive from Beanstalk when placed in a school?

Every reading helper is assigned to one of our Volunteer Support Workers (VSW) who support you throughout your time in a school. The VSW will come and visit you in one of the sessions, in addition to arranging coffee mornings/book exchanges as a chance to meet other reading helpers. There are also regular training opportunities available from your area team. The VSW and the rest of the area team are always at the end of the phone and if you are having difficulties you will be able to speak to a member of the Beanstalk team at any time.

11.   Does Beanstalk reimburse travel expenses?

Reading helpers are able to claim car mileage or public transport costs for any expenses from your home to the school/training venue you attend. As mentioned above, Beanstalk try and place all reading helpers in a school within 5 miles from your home.

If you'd like to become a Beanstalk trained reading helper then please fill in our enquiry form.