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Primary school pupils to receive support in reading and literacy from student mentors

15 June 2023

Side view of school kids sitting on cushions and studying over books in a library at school against bookshelves in background

Primary school children across Wales will receive reading and literacy support as part of a pilot mentoring scheme led by Cardiff University.

The team behind the Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) mentoring project, where student mentors work with young people in secondary schools to inspire a love of language learning, will use this tried-and-tested formula as the basis of their work with younger pupils.

Initially, 10 schools will be partnered with university student mentors from Cardiff and Bangor Universities. Small groups of up to eight learners will have six one-hour sessions in-person with their mentors to develop their reading in English.

The pilot will focus on learners in years five and six to further support them getting ready for secondary school. Reading in Welsh will be incorporated into any future phases and upscaling.

Recruitment of mentors, who are studying for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, is now complete. All mentors will receive training in September with the project due to launch in schools in October.

MFL mentoring began in 2015 to support the Welsh Government’s Global Futures strategy to increase the number of younger learners taking languages at GCSE in Wales. Since then, the project has been rolled out to over 150 secondary schools across Wales.

Project Lead Lucy Jenkins, based in the University’s School of Modern Languages, said: “Mentoring can be a powerful tool in supporting learners and showing them the joy that can be gained from studying. Our MFL student mentors, who are further along in their educational journeys, have inspired many young people to pursue a language at GCSE and beyond.

“These methods will undoubtedly be of great benefit to primary-age children as they prepare for secondary school. We hope the scheme will instil a love for reading that is not only fundamental to a successful education, but also to developing happy, confident young people who can succeed, whatever path they choose.

“We look forward to working with our student mentors as they gain invaluable experience and skills.”

Welsh Government Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said: “Reading is an essential skill that pupils will use throughout their life. It’s vital that we ignite a passion for reading from a young age.

“Improving reading skills is a national priority, which is why in we have invested an additional £5 million to support pupils, including ensuring every child receives a free book.

“The pilot reading mentoring programme will provide benefits to improve literacy skills and also build communication and confidence for both the mentor and those being mentored.”