Retired invited back into the classroom

PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 June 2013

Volunteers wanted to help in schools.

Volunteers wanted to help in schools.

Archant

A VOLUNTEER scheme is in need of new members across North Somerset to support children in schools.

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) trains volunteers to work alongside teachers in primary and secondary schools to help pupils during lessons.

The programme is thriving in Bristol and Bath but attempts to set up a similar scheme in North Somerset have so far failed.

Michael Keeling, who has been spearheading the North Somerset programme, said: “I’ve been a headteacher for 15 years and I think volunteers, particularly older people with maturity and experience, can help immensely, not just because they’re very good with children but because they have a lot of life experience.

“A lot of the work will involve individual reading and literacy skills, but some volunteers also help with a lot more, like teaching assistants, and go on trips with them.

“For teachers, volunteers are invaluable. Schools rely on them a lot.”

RSVP is looking for people over 50 who have at least an hour a week to spare.

No experience or special skills are required, just a willingness to learn and volunteers must also enjoy spending time with children.

Mr Keeling added: “There’s nothing like contact with young people to keep you young.

“I think the experience rewards volunteers immensely. Children are so full of enthusiasm and enjoyment of life, which you sometimes need reminding of when you get older.

“I get a lot out of being in an organisation which is committed to educating children.

“All the research shows that one-to-one support with someone who is sympathetic and builds a relationship with the child is absolutely vital to a child’s education.

“Schools always value volunteers because they’ve got more time to do that when teachers are busy.”

Initial training will be given to volunteers and RSVP will then provide support to volunteers and schools which sign up to the scheme.

Any schools or individuals interested in finding out more about the programme can email michael.keeling@rsvp-west.org.uk or call 07909 543271.

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