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University students help boost reading in local schools

Pupils from Crookhorn College with author Ali Sparkes and University of Portsmouth students

School children have been awarded certificates for improving their confidence in reading after completing an intense support programme run by the University of Portsmouth.

The University’s Step UP to Books and Beyond worked with 90 Year 7 pupils to help boost reading skills at schools in Portsmouth, Waterlooville, Havant and Fareham.

The 10-week programme, run by the University’s Recruitment and Outreach Team, was delivered by 18 trained University students who visited schools to provide targeted learning support to 11 and 12-year-old pupils with a reading age at least 18 months lower than expected for their age.

The programme also aims to raise excitement and aspirations for university life. The University’s students also benefited as many use the experience to help them prepare for teaching careers.

Professor Graham Galbraith, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “I’m thrilled that our students have helped so many local school pupils to boost their reading ability which is such an important life skill. As a University, we have a global outlook but we are firmly rooted in our city and region. We are committed to raising aspirations at local schools and encouraging young people to consider futures they may not have believed achievable in the past.”

University student Chloe Bolton added: “It’s great to represent the University in making a difference with these pupils in the local community.”

The pupils’ success was celebrated at a special event at the University with children’s author Ali Sparkes who gave a talk to parents and pupils, and presented certificates and special awards.

Schools involved in the Step UP to Books and Beyond programme included: Castle View Academy, Portsmouth; Charter Academy, Portsmouth; Crookhorn College, Waterlooville; Havant Academy; Henry Cort Community College, Fareham; Park Community School, Havant; Priory School, Portsmouth; Purbrook Park School, Waterlooville; and Saint Edmund’s Catholic School, Portsmouth.

Other University of Portsmouth outreach programmes include:

  • Step UP to Uni Life – Year 10 mentoring programme for around 140 pupils at 11 schools
  • Step UP to the Podium – sport science programme for Year 9 pupils to learn science through sport, with a celebration event at Fratton Park
  • Discover Higher Education – on-campus tours and workshops for Year 8 and 9 pupils
  • Making Your Mind UP – taster visits to University faculties for Year 8 and 9 pupils including sessions on robots, coding and running a business.

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