Sixth form literacy champions from Jack Hunt inspire reading confidence mentoring younger pupils

The 18 year old volunteers help inspire their fellow students and learn from each other, finding connections within their school hallways
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Four sixth form students from John Hunt Secondary School, part of Peterborough Keys Academies Trust, are known as ‘Literary Champions,’ who support their community in Peterborough by peer reading with younger pupils who struggle with confidence and enjoyment.

In the year since they began volunteering, Annie Whyman, Devonne Piccaver, Keira Rotondo, and Sehare Shezad have created a peer reading scheme in their school, where they spend mornings mentoring pupils in Year 7 and 8.

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They meet once or twice a week to read together, exploring books on the curriculum and new texts and forms, including poetry, illustration, news and lyrics.

Literacy Champions from Jack Hunt Secondary School part of Peterborough Keys Academies Trust Literacy Champions from Jack Hunt Secondary School part of Peterborough Keys Academies Trust
Literacy Champions from Jack Hunt Secondary School part of Peterborough Keys Academies Trust

This has been especially important as schools work to make sure young people are achieving their potential after the disruption of the pandemic.

Sally Atkinson, Peterborough Reads Hub Manager, said: “These volunteers have done wonderful work to make a difference and improve literacy in their school, so this invitation is fully deserved. We know encouragement and recommendations from peers have a different impact than advice from teachers, parents and adults.

"Some children find it more relatable and may be more likely to admit challenges to someone closer in age. Our Youth Literacy Champions play a key role in helping every child to find enjoyment in reading."

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Wendy Gooding, Assistant Head Teacher at Jack Hunt School said: "I am delighted to have been able to nominate four fantastic Year 13 students to represent Jack Hunt School at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They have completed national training to upskill themselves as Literacy Champions and have enthusiastically and skilfully engaged with our KS3 students to support them in accelerating their literacy levels."

She added: “The support the school has received from the National Literacy Trust over the past few years should also be recognised – the expertise they can offer along with novel ideas and events will have a positive impact on outcomes for our young people.”

The young volunteers were accompanied to the event by Suzanne Tuck, a fellow Literacy Champion, and a member of staff at Jack Hunt School, and Emma Morton, Peterborough Reads Project Officer.

Suzanne Tuck said: “As we boarded the train back to Peterborough, we unanimously felt we had shared a unique day and experienced a true moment in history.”

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The National Literacy Trust works to empower children and young people with the reading, writing, and communication skills they need to succeed in life. Low literacy skills are inextricably connected to poverty and disadvantage; our work in Peterborough and across the country helps improve life chances and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

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