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The Growth Of Awareness Of Adult Illiteracy In Britain

for the panel of teachers.  Their qualifications should ideally include primary teacher-training and some experience (preferably within the clubs) to give a background of teaching reading and teaching through exploration and sharing experience.  As the number of clubs increased, so the organisers sought to enlist supervisors from among volunteers who were professionally qualified.  This source of recruitment thus means that the supervising tutors will have insight into volunteers, needs in terms of support.  Emphasis in laid on the importance of the autonomy of the student’s literacy aims.

However, notwithstanding this policy of recruiting professionally qualified supervising tutors for the clubs, it has sometimes been necessary to press into service with the minimum of training, individuals who are particularly apt, principally because of their training as primary teachers.  On occasion this has worked very well, but it is probably greatly due to the fact that these new tutors have been known to Mrs, Zonena either professionally through her work at Teacher Training College and/or socially and have integrated readily with the existing group.

A further development in the induction of a new supervisor is the idea of sending one or two experienced supervising tutors to open and develop a new club.  At the same time the new recruit or experienced volunteer is inducted as the supervisor at that club.  Thus the club becomes firmly established by experienced workers, and the new supervisor can benefit greatly from the support of the experienced members.  This is proving very successful both in establishing new clubs and grounding new tutors.  It is also important to remember that the supervising tutor is always in contact with colleagues and the organisers through the Management Group and members of it on a formal and social basis.  This two-way contact is important for giving feedback to the total organisation of the nature and quantity of support needed by supervisors and for disseminating the policy formulated by the Management Group to the clubs.  This contact is crucial to the maintenance of the spirit and intent of Rathbone Reading Clubs,

After discussion by the entire group of supervising tutors on the question of recruitment, induction, training and support of volunteers, a decision was made to produce a training manual and the concept developed of a two-tier training programme.  The training of volunteers is seen as being specifically different from that required by the supervising tutors themselves.  Because the volunteer responds to the student and works within the parameters of the students’ own self-perceived needs while gently extending that perception, broadly speaking volunteers need what they need when they need it.

The supervising tutor, on the other hand, needs to feel in touch with the whole picture of literacy work and confident of having at their fingertips a full repertory of skills, including those of Group management so that they are capable of supporting the volunteer no matter what problem may arise with their teaching of students.

The number of clubs and their size increased steadily over the three years 1974-1977, in response to demands from various quarters - offers of suitable premises; availability of suitable supervising tutors; numbers of students at one club living in another locality; all these and many other demands produced new clubs from Greenwich to Streatham.

One such request received in July 1976 was from the Manager of a Day Centre for the Mentally Ill at Riggindale Road, Streatham.  This was conveyed to Rathbone Reading Clubs by the Special Services Librarian of that time, Pamela Job.  Initially,

© Amity Reading Clubs and Betty Cooper 1978 to 2002 Page 14 of 51

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