Equipping for Life for a better future

Testimonials from participating schools
What do the teachers think of the EfL initiative?
Here are some of their responses.

Malvern Primary School
At Malvern Primary School we value the time our Equipping for Life volunteers spend with our children. As well as having the opportunity to talk about their reading interests, the children form relationships and bond with the volunteers.
The children look forward to the extended reading time. They have the opportunity to talk about themselves and their work in school with an adult who is not officially part of the school i.e. a teacher or classroom assistant.
For some children, it is a time when they can read aloud in a safe environment where that they don’t feel judged by others in their class. For others, it is a chance to practice reading aloud and discuss their books at length.
Here, at Malvern, our children read extensively as part of our Accelerated Reading programme and are given time to read in our library and our ‘Starbooks’ reading café.
Equipping for Life volunteers provide a further outlet to promote the love of reading and extend that enjoyment beyond the classroom. With this help we know our children can be lifelong readers and that is a wonderful gift to bestow upon a child.
Genevieve McSorley, Principal
Forth River School
“Our pupils have benefitted greatly from the one-to-one reading experience they have had through EfL. The children have blossomed academically, socially and spiritually. They look forward very much to their weekly sessions with the devoted group of volunteers.”
Judith Stevenson, Deputy Head Teacher

Go to the Video section of the Home page for an in-depth interview with Judith about the success of EfL in Forth River School.
Springhill Primary School
We have been very impressed with the manner in which Equipping for Life is run. From the outset we have been struck by the high calibre and gentle nature of the team in general and in their approach to working along with us in setting up the volunteer tutors in our school. Schools are busy places and teachers can be under considerable pressure. The team seemed to have an instinctive understanding of this and listened fully to suggestions about how this could work best within Springhill.

We were also struck by the immediate and almost entirely positive responses from the parents of pupils first offered the places.

We selected our pupils partly on ability but also through judging which children would simply benefit most from the one to one nature of the sessions. Many of our children do not have access to this sort of time and attention in day to day life. They benefit greatly from the opportunities to read with and for articulate and interested adults, as well as conversing with them.

The enthusiasm of our pupils towards this scheme is obvious and I believe is similarly so in other schools where the scheme operates. The pupils cannot wait to go to their session and indeed will happily sacrifice other things in order not to miss their time. As a teacher I am reminded that the ‘volunteers’ must be recorded on our messages board for each coming week. It is interesting that one of our pupils who we knew would benefit but who was initially reticent and chose not to attend has since become involved and is enjoying the sessions. This is down to her class teacher who has encouraged her, her family and also at least partly down to the enthusiasm of her peers for the scheme.

There are certainly other pupils who would like to be involved but as you are aware our difficulty is providing enough time in an equally pleasant space to accommodate any additional volunteers – however – never say never.

Finally, can we thank you for including our school in this positive, valuable and worthwhile experience. The opportunity for our pupils is very greatly appreciated.
Kind regards and many thanks indeed so far.

Janet Smyth (English Co-Ordinator) and Janet Lyness (Acting Principal)
Harmony Primary School
Equipping for Life first approached Harmony Primary School last year, with the suggestion of bringing reading volunteers into school in September 2019. The organisation in setting up the programme so quickly was very impressive.

Volunteer tutors were recruited from churches far and wide and were invited Into school for an initial meeting to get to know us over tea and scones. While some volunteers were understandably nervous, as they hadn’t worked in a school setting before, they were very open to ideas and suggestions on the best way forward with our pupils.

We were quickly up and running in the new school year. Children were selected on the basis of who we thought would benefit most from the experience, not just on their reading ability. The pupils range from P4-P6 and they thoroughly enjoy their 1-1 sessions. They are all extremely enthusiastic and can’t wait to get out of class each Wednesday to read and discuss their books with their tutors, but also benefit even more from the opportunity to chat to a trusted adult before, after, and even sometimes during, their reading time!

The volunteer tutors in Harmony have shown commitment, positivity, patience, understanding and a real devotion to the pupils they work with and have formed wonderful bonds with them. They give an invaluable service to our children.

Due to Covid 19 restrictions, we had to close the programme early, but look forward to starting afresh in the near future. In the meantime, we are grateful for the prayers of the
Equipping for Life team for our whole school community.

Alison Hutchinson
Harmony Primary School

Edenbrooke Primary School
The Senior Management of Edenbrooke have been very impressed and inspired by Equipping for Life from the word go. From the very first meeting with Brother David we were struck by a tremendous sense of enthusiasm and commitment to helping the pupils in our community.

This was again very evident when we met the volunteers assigned to Edenbrooke. The volunteer tutors settled quickly into Edenbrooke and are now very much part of our school life. They recognise that schools are busy places and teachers can be under considerable pressure.

Parents were very keen for their children to be involved in this project; pupils were offered places, and very soon we had a waiting list. Many of our pupils would not have access to additional adult time, male role models and one-to-one attention.

The opportunity to read with an interested adult is always very appealing and rewarding for both parties. The pupils cannot wait to go to their Friday sessions, do not want to miss their time and have already asked can they read with their volunteer tutor next year.

At the
Equipping for Life launch in the Spectrum Centre in June 2019, I had the opportunity to read alongside a P7 Edenbrooke pupil, a boy who I had taught in Primary 1. He was naturally nervous walking to the event, but his attitude changed as soon as we walked in. All he wanted to do was find “his volunteer” and take her to meet his mum—a small example of how much the volunteers mean to the pupils. We have many other pupils who would like to be involved in this very worthwhile project, but our challenge is providing space to accommodate additional volunteers.

We are very grateful that we are part of the
Equipping for Life project. It is a rewarding and valuable experience for both pupils and indeed volunteers. We really appreciate the commitment, both in time and positivity, that the volunteers give each week to Edenbrooke Primary School, and also the dedication of Brother David and the wider Equipping for Life Team.

Thank you from all at Edenbrooke.

Lisa Grimason,
Principal, Edenbrooke Primary School

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"… very soon we had a waiting list. "
"Many of our pupils would not have access to additional adult time, male role models and one-to-one attention."
"With this help [from EfL] we know our children can be lifelong readers and that is a wonderful gift to bestow upon a child."
"The pupils cannot wait to go to their session and indeed will happily sacrifice other things in order not to miss their time."
Testimonials | Equipping for Life