A VOLUNTARY programme for 70 primary school students in the city is desperately appealing for adults who could spare an hour a week to help children catch up and stay up with their classmates in school. This week has seen the return of the Fr. McGrath Family Centre’s one-to-one support programme for children, many who are struggling at primary school level, and the community project needs to find more adults with an hour to spare on Monday and Wednesday afternoons to take children off their growing waiting list to join the highly successful community programme.
Sr. Mary Bourke retired St. John of God Order teacher was a founding volunteer for the programme fourteen years ago when she read about the Centre’s efforts in the Kilkenny People to set up this voluntary response for children who were falling behind in school in the communities they were targeting.’
Sr. Mary said: “In an information age society there is no greater social disadvantage we can hand a child then to stand by and see them leaving school early and under-qualified or without the literacy skills they will need to survive as adults. ‘Tutors who work on this programme know that their voluntary effort is helping to change a child’s life and prospects and this is a gift that will go on befitting the child and society for the rest of their life.’
Transition year students from most of the city secondary schools have also played a vital role in making this programme the success it has become and they have acted as excellent role models to younger children who they have helped to aspire to improve their own educational achievements.
Pat Brennan, Chairperson of the voluntary Board running the Family Centre said the programme had been one of the most successful programmes of its kind in the country. “It’s success is largely down to our ability to recruit and support adults who have some time to spare on school afternoons to support children who are struggling to stay up in school. All volunteer tutors will be fully supported by our FAS C.E. trainees and other trained staff at the Centre,” he said.
The programme is now in its 14th year and following a major recent review has been cited by Dept of Education inspectors as one of the most innovative and effective voluntary education programmes for children that they have come across in the country. Acting Children’s Education Coordinator, Rosin McMurrow, said that they currently had a need for volunteer tutors between 3- 4.00pm on Monday and Wednesday afternoons to help them take children off their waiting lists. She said: “All tutors are fully supported by our experienced team and only need good literacy skills and an empathy with children to qualify. People are very welcome to call in and view our programme in action before deciding if this is something they would be interested in getting involved with,” he added. Interested adults can contact Rosin McMurrow or Georgina Brady at the Centre on 056 7751988 for more details.