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Students do the University proud – University of Reading

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Students do the University proud

Release Date 15 June 2006

Students who have gone to 31 local schools to help children and teachers in the classroom are to receive certificates at a special ceremony on Monday 19 June. Every year these generous helpers maintain the University's longstanding and proud tradition of supporting the local community. Professor Gordon Marshall CBE, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, will present the certificates to the students who participated in the Community Service Volunteers 'Learning Together' scheme and completed at least 10 periods of tutoring in the last year. A special prize is to be awarded to Abigail Hiester, a first year student studying Theatre Arts, Education and Deaf Studies, who has been nominated as outstanding volunteer of the year. Teacher Sally Hall at The Avenue Special School said: "Abigail was an extremely willing volunteer who fitted in instantly and showed real care and concern for all the pupils. "She was punctual, reliable, helpful, interested, keen and enthusiastic. I think extremely highly of Abigail and treat her as a proper member of my staff team." The University is delighted to announce that Peter Devereux, Principal Advisor, Education Service, Wokingham District Council, has agreed to be the guest speaker. The Mayor of Reading, Councillor Bet Tickner, will also be present at the ceremony. "It is a great pleasure for me to attend this ceremony and be able to show our gratitude to these community-spirited students," said Professor Marshall. "The Learning Together scheme has once again proved to be hugely beneficial for all concerned. For students actually to go into the classroom and see the positive effect their skills have on others is an important step in their development, while the pupils feed off their enthusiasm and are encouraged to go on to higher education. It has been wonderful to learn of the rapport built up between the student volunteers and school pupils and the real sense of enjoyment everybody has got from the experience." This year was one of the most successful for the scheme, with 223 volunteers from the University of Reading, Thames Valley University and Randolph-Macon Woman's College placed in schools, giving a total of more than 3,300 hours of voluntary help. Around 20% of volunteers were from abroad, coming from 21 different countries. For the first time ever, two family members, who are both postgraduate students, tutored at the same time. Mrs Sarah Olaleye, 44, a teacher from Nigeria, helped out at Bulmershe School along with her brother, James Ogunleye, 29. Sarah said: "I felt fulfilled in having an impact in the life of the younger generation by contributing my own little bit to encourage them. I was able to compare the British and Nigerian education systems. I appreciate the facilities available in Bulmershe School." The reaction of the teachers was extremely positive too, with volunteers apparently really making a difference in the classroom. "Both of the volunteers worked very hard," said one teacher at Reading School. "They had an amazing rapport with the students and were able to motivate them and fill them with enthusiasm. Their input definitely helped the students to perform to the highest level in the GCSE speaking test." Of the 31 institutions that received student tutors, 14 were primary schools, 12 were secondary schools and three were special schools. Two tutors also went to Thames Valley University and the 'Playing for Success' scheme at the Madejski Stadium. In all, the CSV scheme took us to schools in three LEA areas – Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham. A further 31 students will be awarded certificates at the same time for voluntary work as E-mentors. Each gave support to two or three secondary pupils from selected schools farther from Reading, through schemes co-ordinated by the University's Widening Participation Office that provide a safe and monitored web environment for e-mails on a weekly basis. End The media are welcome to attend the ceremony. Please confirm attendance with Craig Hillsley, the University's press officer. Tel: 0118 378 7388, e-mail: c.hillsley@reading.ac.uk

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