Jack Petchey Foundation
If you think you can, you can!

Volunteer teaches one-to-one classes for children struggling with reading in South Africa

In February 2015, Lucy Bailey volunteered for ten weeks with the charity ‘ABC for Life’, through the International Citizen Service (ICS). ABC for Life is a charity based in Sentinel Primary School in Hout Bay, South Africa, which works to support pupils who are falling behind in the key areas of English, Maths and Afrikaans. Lucy received a £300 grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation, which went toward the £1500 total that Lucy was required to fundraise. She raised the rest of the money herself by running a sponsored half marathon, selling clothes at table top sales, bag packing at her local supermarket and a “Jar on the Bar”.

Lucy and the other ICS volunteers provided one to one sessions with the children at Sentinel Primary School who needed extra support. Lucy worked with seven children who she taught for an average of an hour per week, helping them with Maths and English as well as offering general emotional support.

Lucy also taught as part of the charity’s ‘Love of Reading’ programme, in which twice a week children who struggled with reading English or Afrikaans would come to the sessions to read for half an hour each week with a volunteer. The rest of Lucy’s time was spent working as a classroom assistant at Sentinel Primary School, where she was assigned a Grade 2 class, in which she provided general assistance, supporting the class teacher and helping the children with their exercises.

But her work didn’t stop outside the classroom; after school, Lucy helped to lead activities for the children to take part in, including soccer, cricket, ball games as well as arts and crafts. Lucy took a different class each day to the local sports field to participate in these activities and provided the children with sandwiches, fruit and juice. Lucy and the other volunteers also helped to plan and lead a Sexual Health Awareness Day, which led to 65 members of the community being tested for HIV by local health workers.

Lucy saw the project make a real impact on the children’s abilities; she said “I noted a difference in the children I read with during the Love of Reading programme, moving up one, two or even three reading levels during the ten weeks. One pupil I read with reached the stage where she no longer needed extra reading support and could fluently read and grasp an excellent knowledge of the books we read together. 

Another one of her pupils, Beatrice, greatly improved her times tables, with Lucy commenting “During my first session with her she did not know any of her times tables. After spending time with her, she now knows (and hopefully will not forget!) her 1, 2, 5 and 10 times tables.” She also noted a growth in Beatrice’s confidence and communication skills thanks to the sessions.

Apart from watching her students make progress in their work, one of Lucy’s favourite parts of the project was “the ability to integrate and become a part of a community completely different to mine in the UK. I loved being able to live with a South African family, I have made a true second family and still speak to them daily.”

Watch Lucy’s “One Second Every Day” video of her experience on Youtube here

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