Dial-a-book service for students

Published: 1st June 2020

Published by City College Southampton

Throughout this year our Learning Centre team has been running a highly successful programme called “Reading Aloud” to develop students’ confidence and enthusiasm for reading through practising reading out loud. Students engaged in the programme as books were carefully chosen to interest them, often exploring themes which are relevant to their daily lives.  The programme was going really well with students surprising us with their enthusiasm and we were seeing improvements in pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and self-confidence. 

Then lockdown happened and face-to-face reading sessions had to stop but the Learning Centre was not defeated and started using video conferencing to stay connected with its groups and to keep “Reading Aloud”.  However, the next problem was that everyone on the video call needed a copy of the book and not all of the books being used were available digitally.  Once again the Learning Centre was not defeated and team leader Richard Ashman got on his bike to deliver books across Southampton.

Richard commented: “It hasn’t been too difficult to provide a letter-box service to the students delivering books direct to their homes.”  Although on one occasion a student’s family weren’t happy about letting anyone into the block of flats, so Richard used his frisbee skills to deliver the book by air up to the third floor flat!

The response from the students has been really rewarding.  Ali Swindells, one of the team delivering the 1-2-1 sessions, said students have been delighted and surprised that we have taken the time and effort to maintain “Reading Aloud”.  She has also noticed that during lockdown the sessions have changed from purely practising reading to wider discussions about current issues which is developing wider communication skills and the sessions are really helping students to continue to feel part of our College’s community.

Richard Ashman added: “I believe reading is important; not just individually but as part of everyone’s family life.  It doesn’t always matter what we read as long as we and those around us have the choice and opportunity to read. Libraries do that not only through books and learning but also by offering escapism and the opportunity to allow your imagination to soar.”

Principal Sarah Stannard said: “I’m very grateful to our dedicated Learning Resource team who are determined to give our students every opportunity.  We really believe that enthusing our students about reading is something that will help them throughout their lives, professionally and personally.  Reading confidently enables you to learn, to escape and to imagine new futures.”