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Qld volunteers to boost reading levels

Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has allocated $1.5m for reading volunteers in schools.Volunteers are being offered skills and training by the Queensland Labor government to read to school children, with $1.5 million allocated to the new literacy program over three years.

But the Liberal National Party opposition says the plan will add an extra layer of red tape to something many people already do.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Tuesday made the announcement, saying the “army of volunteers” would boost reading levels and boost flagging test results.

“We know that reading helps prove educational outcomes. We’ve seen already through the NAPLAN results, year three reading has improved, but we need to do more, especially around the year fives and year sevens.”

Under the program, volunteers would be given training and blue cards so they can enter schools and read to children.

“We want people who are retired, we want parents who are working perhaps part time, we want grandparents to give up a few hours a week to be part of our army of volunteers to come into our Queensland schools and help our children,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The target is for three thousand volunteers to sign up to the program over the three year period.

Ms Palaszczuk said the announcement revives a program scrapped by the previous LNP government.

LNP education spokesperson Jarrod Bleijie said that program was scrapped because it was redundant, and many people already volunteered to read to children in schools.

“I’ve read to my son and his class in primary school. I didn’t need to register, I didn’t need to go and get training on how to read Bob the Builder to my son in primary school,” Mr Bleijie told reporters.

He said the opposition was worried the scheme would have the opposite effect than intended, by putting a barrier between more people volunteering to read to children in schools.

Education Minister Grace Grace could not provide figures of how many people currently volunteered to read to school children when asked by journalists.

Tuesday’s announcement was teased on Monday by the government as a “major education overhaul” but it amounts to $500,000 a year for one program.

However Ms Palaszczuk said it was the first of a number of educational announcements, which will be made in the lead up to the state budget in June.

Volunteers can register from May 14, with the program to begin in term three.

Australian Associated Press

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