Medical student Matthew Divine zooms in to local primary school to read to pupils 

Medical students at the University of Plymouth have been delivering reading sessions to local primary school pupils as part of a project to boost literacy in the city.

The Right to Read Scheme, run by Plymouth Children in Poverty (PCiP) and funded by Plymouth Drake Foundation, sees students from across Peninsula Medical School drop in online to read a story to pupils and follow it up with a discussion on the book’s message.

Each pupil then receives their own book, funded by Plymouth Drake Foundation, wrapped and with a name and sticker inside by non-profit organisation The Story Gifters. 

The initiative was trialled earlier this year based on the knowledge that many children across the UK do not own a book, and that early years reading has been even further impacted by the pandemic.

Medical student ambassadors (WAMS) have been taking part in their spare time, with many ‘Zooming in’ between academic work and placement shifts. Medicine Foundation students out on their placements also supported the project. Their involvement came about thanks to PCiP’s links with Julie Monk, the University’s Widening Participation Officer in the Faculty of Health.

Julie said: 

“We’re very much rooted in our community here in Plymouth, with outreach work and widening access to education embedded in our medical school ethos. Our students jumped at the chance to take part in this event and it’s been brilliant for all concerned. One of our students had feedback that she was captivating, and the children absolutely adored their session with her. It’s wonderful that we’re able to help children develop a love of reading in this way.”

Kerry Bidewell, Campaign Co-Ordinator at PCiP said: 

“Sitting with these children knowing many at this stage will not meet expected reading standards, it is hard to believe as they excitedly answer questions on the stories, make insightful observations, and meet new role models. We trialled it first in Stonehouse, Whitleigh and St Budeaux, and I am extraordinarily proud. I’m really grateful to everyone at Peninsula Medical School for making it work. We’re looking for more corporate funding to continue the rollout to more schools and more year groups, so look forward to seeing what else we can do going forward.”

Widening access

As part of our commitment to widening participation to medicine, dentistry and health courses, we undertake a series of initiatives in order to raise aspirations and awareness.

Find out more about access and participation
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