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How Coram is supporting schools to improve reading, resilience and relationships education

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By Ginny Lunn, divisional director for education and early years at Coram and managing director at Coram Beanstalk

Coram is a national children’s charity working to ensure that every child can access education and gain the skills and confidence needed to reach their true potential and make positive life choices.

We work in partnership with 3,500 schools across the UK, many of whom have an association with NAHT, to tackle poor literacy, boost attainment and build life skills and critical thinking. Good quality education and child well-being is central to this work and continues to be the focus of the programmes delivered to schools and academies through Coram Beanstalk and Coram Life Education.

According to the Education Policy Institute, the disadvantage gap between deprived children and their peers continues to narrow in primary school but widen again by Key Stage 4. Being able to read well and with confidence from an early age is key to unlocking potential in young people, helping them to develop empathy with others and communicate thoughts and ideas with confidence.

That’s why Coram Beanstalk will recruit, train and support over 4,000 reading helpers in schools and early years settings by March 2020. These volunteers support children aged three to 13 on a weekly basis over one academic year to help them read well - not just through recognising the words but through the enjoyment of sharing books together. In the last year, 74% of children showed an improvement in reading ability after working with a Coram Beanstalk reading helper.

At secondary level Coram Beanstalk is expanding the delivery of its Reading Leaders programme across the UK, an accredited peer tutoring leadership programme that enables older students to work one-to-one with younger students to improve their reading skills, attitude towards reading and confidence. We’ve found the programme to be an impactful way of improving literacy attainment and school cohesion.

Coram Beanstalk’s training programmes have also been developed to engage parents, carers and others in the local community to help children with their reading, enabling them to have an even bigger impact on the children they help. These are also suitable for virtual schools or fostering agencies looking to train foster carers who are supporting children of different ages. Find out more at

Coram Life Education also offers a whole-school approach to children’s mental health, resilience and healthy relationships in partnership with over 2,000 UK primary schools.

Led by evidence of the link between well-being and attainment, we use memorable techniques to equip children with the skills to prepare for adolescence and beyond. Compulsory from 2020, many schools are already enhancing or implementing their relationships and health education, and teachers tell us they want to be ready to teach the subject and engage effectively with parents, but lack the confidence to do so.

In addition, over 26,000 teachers subscribe to ‘SCARF’, our time-saving online lesson plans, planning and assessment tools. School leadership and governance are critical in embedding the values and ethos reflecting the society we want for children, and creating a nurturing environment in which children thrive. SCARF is a comprehensive PSHE and well-being education curriculum, providing a framework for a whole-school approach to developing children’s mental and physical health and covering the requirements of the new statutory Relationships and Health education. SCARF represents our values for children – Safety, Caring, Achievement, Resilience and Friendship. Ofsted’s recent feedback to a SCARF school said ‘all staff and pupils understand the SCARF code…The focus upon warm relationships of mutual respect creates a calm and purposeful atmosphere for learning’.

Your school can sign up for a free sample of SCARF and you may be in an area of the country where our educators deliver specialist education programmes for which SCARF comes at no extra cost. Find out more at


First published 02 October 2019