A Saturday morning literacy project for children, run on a shoestring, has proved so successful it now urgently needs more volunteers so that it can expand.
Eastfield Butterfly School opened last June operating out of Holy Nativity Church in Westway next to Westway Open Arms.
It currently has 14 regular children attending, aged between five and 12 years old and a team of nine dedicated volunteers.
Parents give voluntary contributions towards costs of between £2 and £4 depending on what they feel they can afford and small grants from Yorkshire Coast Housing, Scarborough Borough Council and the John Kendal Trust as well as individual donations have all helped get this project up and running.
Already, in just seven months, organisers have been seeing dramatic improvements in the reading age scores of the pupils attending, along with greater confidence and better behaviour and concentration.
For the volunteers it has been amazingly gratifying to see a child who used to mumble and look worried begin to come out of their shell as they become proud of their good work or to hear from a parent that a child has been moved into a higher ability group at school.
Volunteer team leader Kathy Bushell said: “One little girl who used to say she hated going to school recently reported that she likes going now.
“Another child had become quite demoralised after being diagnosed as dyslexic, but we were able to show him that he had gained a year and a half in his reading age over seven months and was catching up fast.
She continued: “The children are taught according to their reading age, not their actual age, so the scheme is a brilliant safety net for those who for whatever reason just didn’t quite ‘get’ reading and writing the first time round at school; this system allows them a second chance.
“Equally for the most able it is also able to stretch and challenge brighter children, teaching them complicated rules of grammar as well as lots of opportunities to analyse extracts from the Classics.
“The scheme uses the same method (synthetic phonics) as schools and has the backing of local head teachers. Although nine volunteers to 14 children sounds quite a lot, in fact most volunteers don’t come every week and the younger children in particular benefit from a high teacher to pupil ratio.
“Given this, we are eager to recruit more volunteers now, so that they will be trained and ready for us to expand with new starters when the Autumn term starts in September.
“Good literacy really does change a person’s life for the better. There can be few more satisfying and exciting activities than enabling children to begin to unlock the code of reading and writing.”
Kathy added that the children are polite and cheerful and that discipline at the group is firm but fair.
Although volunteers need to have good reading and writing skills, have an encouraging disposition and the ability to work in a team, it is not necessary to have a teaching background as the course is easy to follow and training happens gradually by helping out and watching existing volunteers.
A DBS check and good references are essential as is a probationary period during which you will be introduced to our policies and procedures.
At the end of this period a formal interview takes place. A previous criminal record is not necessarily a bar to working for us provided you speak to the Volunteer Team Leader about it in confidence.
If you think you would find it rewarding to help children become fluent readers and writers and could spare three and a half hours on Saturday mornings then please ask for an application form from Kathy Bushell (secretary and volunteer team leader) on (01723) 850388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org