Chapter One Online Reading Programme

We have joined the global effort to improve literacy for all by partnering with the charity Innovations for Learning through their Chapter One programme. A significant focus of Our Planet sustainability plans is to help give young people the best start to life and a fair chance to build a great future.

Chapter One enables us to have a direct impact on young, disadvantaged children, helping change lives for the better.

The Challenge

Literacy levels across the UK remain low in disadvantaged areas. The Department for Education report that 36% of 11-years-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds in England leave primary school not knowing how to read well. This impacts their secondary school education and ultimately their personal life skills. In fact, they are on average a full nine months behind their peers, with certain areas showing this can be as high as a full 13 months behind.

Innovations for Learning recognise that this gap begins early. They say that by the age of seven there is a 17% attainment gap between children eligible for free school meals and their more advantaged counterparts.

The Chapter One programme accounts for this and focuses on 5–7-year-olds, which is what they describe as a ‘light-bulb’ year for reading. The programme runs on volunteers giving their time to read with the children remotely, for 30 minutes each week. Many schools have already signed up to take part and Chapter One are continuously seeking volunteers to have as much of a positive impact as possible on young children across the UK and beyond.

The Solution

We are proud to be encouraging our people across the business to sign up as a volunteer. We have a dedicated social impact team who are coordinating our efforts and anyone who joins can use work time to spend 30 minutes with the pupils, helping them to further enhance their reading skills.

To kickstart our support, we have begun by focusing on Torriano School in the London Borough of Camden.  During the 2021/2022 academic year, four Sunbelt volunteers were paired with 6-year-old pupils. Over the course of the term times, they spent 30 minutes each week reading with the children and had the opportunity to build great bonds with them and watch their reading skills flourish.

Our teams even got to meet with the pupils on an arranged celebration day in early July 2022 to recognise the success of the programme, with one volunteer saying “It is incredible to have the opportunity to make a difference so directly to a child’s life. The enjoyment we both get from our weekly reading sessions is more than I ever expected, but the real rewarding part is to see the progress in the pupil I am working with. I can really see how the time we are spending together is paying off and helping him to become a confident young reader.” Teresa Boddice, Marketing Executive, Sunbelt Rentals UK

The Results

The programme has been a great success and we are expanding it further. In addition to supporting pupils at Torriano School in Camden we are onboarding Sunbelt Rental volunteers for a further two schools in England and Scotland, with over 20 volunteers already signed up for the reading programmes at the start of the new 2022/2023 academic year.

We know how important it is to help young children as the Department for Education statistics show 69% of pupils who do not reach the expected reading standards by age seven will also fail to meet expectations at age 11.

Jack Holme, Leader of Learning at Torriano school says “It’s a wonderful programme to be part of. The impact is so tangible and real for the children. We definitely see the accelerated progress we need to see in their reading.”


Planning your project? See how we can make it happen and get in touch below.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Case Studies Like This One

Text placeholder