Guest Blog – Arlene Phillips – supporting ‘Born to Read’

Today’s guest blog is from Arlene Phillips who writes about her visit to see a reading scheme in action to inspire children to love books and become confident readers, as part of the Born to Read initiative being rolled out across the UK.


I’d been told I was visiting children who had struggled with their reading.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the library of the Weston Park primary school in north London to find half-a-dozen confident, articulate seven-year-olds clutching their favourite books and keen to tell me all about them.

Image credit: Ki Price/Save the Children

Image credit: Ki Price/Save the Children

Their conversion from reluctant readers to evangelists for literacy was thanks to a year of one-to-one support – for an hour a week each – by a dedicated and specially trained volunteer.

The helper, Karen Colling, a receptionist who lives locally, told me the best thing about being a volunteer was seeing the children grow in confidence over the weeks.

It was clear that the youngsters were very fond of Karen and were excited to see her when they weren’t expecting it.

I am delighted to report that the charities Save the Children and Beanstalk – which provided the support to Weston Park – are joining forces to launch Born to Read, a nationwide rollout of this scheme to help thousands of extra primary school pupils across the UK.

I was lucky that I had the opportunity to read to my children and it was something I loved to do, and always encouraged them to have a book in their hand.

Not everyone has that chance.

One of the main reasons children fall behind with their reading is poverty.

Image credit: Ki Price/Save the Children

Image credit: Ki Price/Save the Children

And research published today by Save the Children shows that fewer than one in six children from poorer families who have fallen behind by the age of seven catch up in time to achieve five good GCSEs. In fact many of them drop back even further behind as they progress through school.

Last year I visited poor families in Yorkshire who are being helped by Save the Children. They couldn’t always afford hot meals or new shoes – let alone educational toys or trips.

Their children will face a struggle to keep up at school.

But the story can be changed.

More than nine out of ten of the primary school children who have support like I saw in north London improve their reading and their confidence.

That’s why I’m asking you to help by signing up today.

Follow Arlene on Twitter at @arlenephillips

Image credit:  Ki Price/Save the Children

Image credit: Ki Price/Save the Children

About The Netmums Blog

The Netmums Blog brings you a behind the scenes look at Netmums, as well as some fabulous guest bloggers and an up to date look at what's new on our Parent Bloggers Network.
This entry was posted in Authors, Books and reading, campaign, Charity, School and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Guest Blog – Arlene Phillips – supporting ‘Born to Read’

  1. Pingback: Pupils 'failing' at age 7 and failing to catch up

  2. MarkLin631696775 says:

    Encouraging and help the next generation to read more that is always our duty.

  3. What a fantastic post! It is so inspiring to see what a positive impact this extra support has made on the children’s attitudes towards reading and their enjoyment of books.

    Congratulations to everyone involved in “Born to Read” project. I am sure we will be hearing many more success stories!

  4. Tina says:

    I need to speak to Arlene Phillips, can she contact me on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s