Peter had always been creative and attended Yeovil College where he studied set design, painting, drawing and sculpture. But the reading and writing elements of his course were a challenge for Peter and he had to rely on his family for support with paperwork and assessments relating to his course. Peter says, ‘Basically, at college, pretty much any kind of assignment I was given was a written worksheet. You would read the top couple of sentences and you fill in your answer at the bottom – which was all fine if you are a really good reader and you have the skills to write things down in the box. For me, this was a constant struggle.’
‘I also did drama on Wednesdays and what I can remember was one of the teachers saw potential in me to transition me to mainstream GCSE performing arts. I found it to be a very different kind of atmosphere for me getting on with groups of people and all the drama teachers as well. I managed to settle myself in there, and what made it so much easier for me, especially in mainstream, was I had a lot of help and support with my written work. The people I remember at performing arts were really nice to me.’
But Peter was still looking for support with his reading and it was his Mum who heard about their local Read Easy volunteer group – Read Easy Blackmore Vale North. Peter started to meet with his Reading Coach, Phoebe; ‘We started learning to read, going through the alphabet, playing all kinds of word games, and going through the book, learning all the letters and all their rules. I managed to slowly learn words and some joined up writing.’
‘While I was working with Phoebe learning the basic skills of reading, I ended up being in pantomimes and musicals and some wartime plays. I was in Private Peaceful. Learning the script of the piece I found to be challenging and learning all my cues as I was playing a principal part, but now I could read, it helped me with learning my lines and independently navigating where I was on the script. I might not have been perfect with every word but learning to read with Phoebe every Monday did help my reading skills and my independence to do it by myself.’
Peter continued to learn to read during the pandemic. Though the possibility to learn remotely was available via his Read Easy group, Peter didn’t feel confident with devices and video conferencing, but he and his Coach did manage to continue his reading sessions via a weekly phone call. In a later lockdown when rules were relaxed, two family members visited and helped Peter to send an email with attachments which meant he could start to send homework to Phoebe. The group’s Coordinator, Jenny also helped Peter to add a reading app to his iPad which gave him access to a number of stories and a poetry section. Peter’s interest was sparked by the poetry he read and he continued to research poets online, later writing some of his own poetry. ‘I came across ‘The Tyger,’ it was quite wordy and lengthy. This poem did have a deeper meaning and I learnt later with Phoebe what the words really mean and symbolize while researching the author, William Blake.’
Having learned to read with his Coach Phoebe, Peter completed our Moving Ahead programme in November 2021. The emphasis at this second stage with Read Easy is to encourage Readers to broaden their reading skills, start to develop their writing skills and to take responsibility for their own learning so that they can become increasingly independent and gain confidence to consider further education opportunities.
Peter says, ‘Learning to read for me was the best thing I have ever done. My whole time with Phoebe, I was inspired to improve, to write my own short poems and to understand the deeper meaning of words and this has been very useful and successful. I would like to thank the whole Read Easy Blackmore Vale North team for sticking by me and helping me to grow and to develop my reading skills.’
"Learning to read for me was the best thing I have ever done. My whole time with Phoebe, I was inspired to improve, to write my own short poems and to understand the deeper meaning of words and this has been very useful and successful."Peter - Reader, Read Easy Blackmore Vale North