This article presents the findings of a randomized controlled trial evaluation of the effects of a revised version of the volunteer mentoring programme, Time to Read. Participating children received two 30-minute mentoring sessions per week from volunteer mentors who carried out paired reading activities with the children. The current trial involved 512 children aged eight to nine years from 50 primary schools. The programme was found to be effective in improving decoding skills (d=+.15), reading rate (d=+.22) and reading fluency (d=+.14) and there was some evidence of a positive effect in relation to the children’s aspirations for the future (d=+.11). However, no evidence was found of the programme having an effect on reading comprehension or reading confidence and enjoyment of reading. The article concludes by suggesting that mentoring programmes using non-specialist volunteers can be effective in improving foundational reading skills but would appear to be less effective in terms of improving higher-order skills such as comprehension. The article also suggests that such programmes are likely to be most effective if concentrating on core reading activities rather than attempting to address reading outcomes indirectly through improving children’s confidence or wider enjoyment of reading.
- randomized controlled trial
- volunteer effectiveness