31 January 2020

Our annual impact study, published today, reports that children who received one-to-one reading support from a Coram Beanstalk reading helper in 2018/19 made significant improvements across reading attainment, confidence and enjoyment, narrowing the achievement gap between themselves and their peers.

The impact report analyses the effectiveness of our main one-to-one volunteer reading support programme for primary schools, Reading 321. Through this programme trained reading helpers inspire children aged 5-11 who do not yet identify as readers to develop their reading skills and confidence. Each volunteer supports three children, twice a week for 30 minutes each, for at least three terms.

The key findings of the report show:

  • At the start of the intervention 84% of children were classed as ‘Below’ or ‘Working Towards’ their age-appropriate level. By the end of the intervention only 53% are still at that level. 47% of children have caught up to their age-appropriate level and are classed as ‘At’ or ‘Above’ compared to 16% at the beginning of their time with the reading helper.
  • Looking at the differences between the progress made by Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2) children, 52% of KS1 pupils were classed as ‘At’ or ‘Above’ towards the end of the intervention, while 44% of KS2 children were classed as ‘At’ or ‘Above’.
  • KS1 children have shown steady improvements when it comes to their understanding of the text. Their ability to independently predict what might happen next in the story increased significantly, from 33% at the beginning of the intervention to 63% at the end.
  • The number of KS1 children requiring support in order to maintain a positive attitude throughout the reading session has fallen from 50% at the start of the intervention to less than one in three at the end.
  • KS2 children also show solid improvements following support by the reading helpers. Their ability to predict what might happen increased from 50% to 68% while their understanding of the text increased from 34% to 53%.
  • Of the schools Coram Beanstalk works with, 85% said their reading helpers helped children to accelerate in their reading progress, while 97% of schools said their reading helpers helped children to develop a positive attitude towards books and reading.

Ginny Lunn, Managing Director at Coram Beanstalk, said:

“Our 2018/19 Impact Report shows significant improvements are being made by children supported by our reading helpers, evidenced across each of the outcomes we measure against – reading attainment, confidence and enjoyment. It highlights the effectiveness of our volunteers and the vital progress they are making to create a positive reading environment for the children they support.

“However, it is evident from this report that early intervention continues to be key for the biggest impact to be made. Our analysis of the last three academic years shows that by the end of the intervention, KS1 children are more likely to catch-up to the level expected for their age. It is not that KS2 children are not making progress – they were simply not making enough progress to fully narrow the gap with their peers.”

East Stour Primary School, South East: “Bernadette* (Year 3) loves stories and enjoys discussing them. She has become more fluent; she engages with texts enthusiastically. She has really good inference/deduction and draws on her reading experiences when writing.”

The annual impact report measures the progress made by Coram Beanstalk-supported pupils against three main outcomes: Reading attainment, confidence and attitudes to reading and, finally, reading enjoyment. This is conducted through the completion of Reading Records which reading helpers and schools are asked to fill in when a new child starts receiving support and then again at the end of the intervention. It also incorporates feedback extracted through school and reading helper surveys.

Coram Beanstalk works with schools across the UK to deliver a range of evidence-based programmes that have been developed to ensure children who most need help get that encouragement and support in the best way possible. 

Coram Beanstalk's impact report 2018/19

*Children’s names have been changed to protect their identities.