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Award-winning publisher among local businesses volunteering to help boost literacy of Edinburgh school children

Award-winning publisher among local businesses volunteering to help boost literacy of Edinburgh school children

Award-winning, independent publisher Canongate is among a number of local businesses going back to school as part of a volunteer reading programme to help tackle inequalities in literacy among Edinburgh primary children. Paired Reading is an initiative run by Business in the Community (BITC) Scotland, encouraging businesses to develop partnerships with local schools to provide reading support for children and volunteer opportunities for employees.

Staff from publishers Canongate will be reading with children from Royal Mile Primary while employees from BITC Scotland, the charity running the initiative, will themselves be volunteering with children from Sighthill Primary School. Other paired reading partnerships include Mercurytide/The Lang Cat with Leith Primary, Anderson Strathern/ICAS and Roseburn Primary, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh/Wright Johnston and MacKenzie with St Mary’s Primary.

The programme has proven to be successful among larger companies, but additional funding from The Robertson Trust, The Barrack Charitable Trust and the Ernest Cook Trust has allowed BITC Scotland to extend the opportunity to SMEs around the country.

Enthusiastic volunteers from Edinburgh businesses will be starting paired reading programmes in schools around the city this week spending half an hour a week throughout the school year supporting children aged 7 to 11 with their reading.

Scottish Government statistics  show that one in five of the poorest children in Scotland are leaving primary school unable to read well. The Paired Reading programme helps boost confidence among young people and improves literacy, ensuring a child’s success at school and beyond is not determined by their social background.

Alan Thornburrow, Director of Business in the Community Scotland, said:

“Business in the Community Scotland’s Paired Reading programme is a fantastic means of providing worthwhile volunteering opportunities for SMEs.  It enables them to embrace the responsible business agenda, making a real and tangible difference to children in Edinburgh. It also allows children to benefit from one-to-one support which helps boost literacy levels across the country.”

Kate Gibb, Finance and Operations Director at Canongate added:

“Canongate are delighted to be part of the Paired Reading programme and to lend our active support in encouraging children to read. We are pleased to contribute to making a difference to the future generation of readers in Scotland and feel it is part of our responsibility as a company to support these valuable initiatives.”

Head teacher at Royal Mile Primary, Nicky Jessop commented:

“We are very excited to be working with Business in the Community Scotland. We know that our young people will be excited to have a reading buddy and we know it will benefit their attainment and progress. We hope that the volunteers will also have a really positive experience and enjoy spending time with our young people”.