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The Growth Of Awareness Of Adult Illiteracy In Britain




Mrs. Gill Gane, Primary Teacher Supervising Tutor at Estreham Club, Synagogue, Estreham Read, SW16.

Q.How did you come into Rathbone Reading Clubs?

A.Mainly through College.  I was a mature student at Philippa Fawcett College and met Gladys (Mrs. Zonena).  She invited me to become a tutor (volunteer) at Streatham Pool.  This was in 1975. In October 1976 Gladys and other tutors suggested I should have a club of my own. I was terrified at the idea but I had plenty of support from everyone – Gladys, Dinah Malnik27 and others.  Dinah had managed to obtain the use of a room for a nominal rent at the Synagogue in Estreham Road, Streatham, and I opened there.

Q.Where did your students and volunteers come from to start with?

A.Well, three students came from Streatham Pool because Estreham was more convenient for them.  One is still attending, another is still on the books but can’t attend at present due to family commitments, the third had other commitments and only came once.  Since then there’s been no lack of referrals and interestingly, little “turnover”.  I had expected that students would come and go in a fairly regular “wave” pattern, but in fact they all tend to stay, so I’ve now got 14 students on roll.  For volunteers I started off with canvassing among friends, and later anywhere I met people who were interested and suitable, the library, bookshops where I look for materials, the local pub where the club socialises, anywhere that I can find a volunteer.  Among my current list I have an Inland Revenue Inspector, an ex-teacher, three young mothers, two who run their own business, a couple of secretaries and retail trades staff.  I also have two Asian husbands whose wives come as students.  Naturally, the men teach others while their wives acquire English reading and writing abilities.

Q.How do you get books and materials?

A.To begin with, before I opened Estreham I went to Anneke Sims, a librarian with Lambeth Amenity Services.  We visited the Special Collection at Clapham library to decide what I needed.  At the time I had a vague idea of getting books and materials to cover every eventuality.  Of course, I know better now.  Anneke was very helpful - it’s not possible to foresee every likely combination of need.  I also make some teaching materials flash cards and so on but find one needs special material for our adult students.

Q.How do you see the supervising tutor’s role vis-à-vis the volunteer?

A,I like a new volunteer to get the feel of the club - the atmosphere and relationships.  It is very necessary that there should be no “classroom” feeling about the work and I insist that volunteers should not have the idea that they

27 Mrs. Malnik - Supervising Tutor at Lordship Lane, also ex-Philippa Fawcett College.

© Amity Reading Clubs and Betty Cooper 1978 to 2002 Page 31 of 51

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