Inspiring children to read

ARCh – a bespoke assisted reading and mentoring service for primary school children unique in Oxfordshire.

At very little cost ARCh Reading Mentors can make a huge difference to children who struggle with their reading.  We have a tried and tested formula which builds on a child’s self-esteem and literacy skills over the course of a year.   Our mentors are professionally trained and supported and we make it easy for schools by handling all the administrative procedures (from the vetting and recruitment process to on-going training and support).  We also provide our own range of resources.


ARCh Reading Helpers:

  • provide 2 references
  • hold enhanced DBS disclosure (rechecked every 3 years).
  • complete Prevent online training
  • undertake our comprehensive training on Safeguarding.
    The training includes the consideration of our Code of Practice on volunteer behaviour and conduct with the children. We clarify what constitutes child abuse and make sure they know how to handle a disclosure appropriately, including the  process for reporting concerns.
  • are provided with a copy of the Keeping Children Safe in Education document to read.

Please see our:
ARCh Child Protection and Safe from Harm policy


A vital resource
ARCh is a vital resource for me to utilise for the benefit of some targeted children.

Our annual survey, conducted in association with Research Oxford Ltd., revealed that, of the children we worked with in 2018/19


Improved in reading confidence


Improved in attitude to reading


Improved in reading performance


Improved in confidence/self-esteem

Why choose ARCh?

A Long term intervention

Since it began in 2008 ARCh has continually focussed on supporting schools to develop children’s reading, confidence and communication skills.  

Our service tailors support to individual children with a Reading Helper providing two one to one sessions per week for children for the entire year.  The half hour sessions offer personalised mentoring according to each child’s need.  They are designed to give the children a positive and enjoyable experience and involve sharing books, games and conversation. 

ARCh Reading Helpers want to share their passion for reading and pass it on to the future generation.  They take time to get to know their children as individuals, discovering their interests which enables us to source books which will inspire them to read.  It is the bond which develops between mentor and child that makes the biggest impact on improving children’s self-esteem and ability to engage with books.

All Reading Helpers are provided with their own box of books and resources which they are able to change at regular ARCh meetings.

Reading Helpers complete a comprehensive application process prior to being invited to attend our 2 day initial training programme which covers:

  • Detailed safeguarding training
  • ARCh guidance rules
  • Children we can help
  • Building a mentoring relationship
  • Increasing children’s confidence
  • Exploring a range of children’s books
  • The reading process
  • Why games are important
  • Changing children’s attitudes
  • Practicalities of helping in school

Effective use of Pupil Premium

ARCh is a low cost way to provide personalised support for disadvantaged children struggling with reading. We ask schools to contribute £450 per year for each ARCh Reading Helper in their school (equating to only £150 per child per year). We have been able to maintain the charge at the same level again this year thanks to the funders who support our work.

We can work with schools to deliver reports on progress in order to demonstrate effective use of Pupil Premium funding to Ofsted

ARCh manages the entire recruitment, training and support process, saving schools time and money.


Windmill Primary School


Stanton Harcourt Primary School

Rod Walker, Deputy Lieutenant for Oxfordshire, former Head teacher

“I have been very impressed with the results ARCh is achieving in raising standards of reading in Oxfordshire schools. The charity provides a very cost effective way of raising attainment.”

Children we can help

ARCh is a long term intervention with each Reading Helper providing 2 half hour sessions for a child each week for the entire year

Sessions are 1:1 and provide personalised mentoring support according to each child’s individual need. They involve sharing books, games and conversation

Reading Helpers spend time getting to know their children as individuals, discovering their interests which enables us to source books which will engage them in reading

Children are selected by the school for many different reasons but the children we work best with are those

  • Underachieving
  • Not seeing themselves as readers
  • Lacking in confidence/self-esteem
  • Have little support at home
  • Have poor communication skills
  • Who will benefit from long term mentoring support from an interested adult


Raising reading age
“His reading age of 8 years 3 months against his chronological age of 6 years 8 months is a testament to the volunteer’s excellent work. Thank you.”

An introduction to ARCh for children


Why Choose ARCh?

The experienced ARCh team manages the whole Reading Helper process for schools – including recruitment, vetting and training.  We provide personalised resources, books and games (which are changed regularly) and ongoing support and training. We also pay our Reading Helpers’ travel expenses

2 day initial training for new Reading Helpers

Introductory visit – once training and all checks are completed successfully we identify the school placement and accompany the new Reading Helper on their first visit to school

Observation visits and ongoing support from our qualified and professional  fieldworkers who have seen the benefits of ARCh support at first hand, having previously worked in schools as teachers, SENCOs and Reading Helpers

Follow up training for all Reading Helpers

Sharing good practice – through newsletters, book exchange meetings, and termly meetings with inspirational keynote speakers, authors or educational specialists

Refresher trainings on topics such as:

  • Phonics
  • Dyslexia
  • Comprehension
  • Engaging Reluctant Readers
  • Safeguarding

Raising self esteem
The ARCh volunteer…“has been amazing working with a child whose attitude to reading was poor and self esteem low. I believe it had really made a difference for this child.

Michael Waine, Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council Education Scrutiny Committee, former Head teacher

“As well as focussing on the specific skill of reading, ARCh Reading Helpers provide great encouragement to the children they support, building confidence and positive attitudes and developing self-esteem through the strong mentoring relationships they build. The year- long intervention makes a big difference to children’s lives at school and beyond.”

A caring approach
The ARCh volunteer…“has such a caring and flexible approach to the children’s needs.