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FAQs

You will find answers to common questions here. Or, please do not hesitate to contact us on info@bookmarkreading.org

I want to become a volunteer

WHAT’S INVOLVED IN BECOMING A BOOKMARK VOLUNTEER?

Step 1: application: read the Bookmark Reading Volunteer role description and complete your online volunteer application form. We’ll review your application and be in touch within 3 working days to let you know if your application was successful.

Step 2: DBS check: a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) is a criminal record check; one of the checks required to ensure you are well-suited to working with children. All our volunteers must complete an enhanced DBS check prior to volunteering, at no cost to you. If your application has been successful, you will receive an email from us that provides a link to the UCheck DBS Service. It will ask you to complete an online application as part of the vetting and screening process. This takes less than 5 minutes.

Step 3: interview: our interviews provide an opportunity for us to get to know a little bit more about you. Your interview will last 45 minutes - 1 hour. We’ll ask about your reasons for choosing to volunteer with us and make sure you’re aware of what’s involved in the programme. It is also an opportunity for you to ask us any questions.

Step 4: training: Bookmark’s training programme is designed to give you the confidence and knowledge for our programme. This includes 3 hours of face-to-face programme training and a 1 hour online safeguarding course. Or, you can complete your training chapters online in your own time.

Step 5: ready to volunteer: you can find us on the App Store (iPhone) or Play Store (Android) and download the Bookmark app. On the app, you can find everything you’ll need to get started, once you have completed Steps 1 to 4. Simply login and enter your postcode to see participating schools. Our partnered schools will publish available dates and times, and you simply select the most convenient slots for you.

WHAT AGE WILL THE READER BE?

Bookmark supports children in Years 1 – 3  (5-8 years old). 

HOW MANY SESSIONS DO I HAVE TO DO? 

To give the child the best possible experience, all volunteers need to complete 12 30-minute sessions over a 6-week programme. That’s two, 30-minute sessions for a period of 6 weeks. The Bookmark app allows you to rearrange and cancel sessions in unexpected circumstances and allows for forward planning. 

WILL I BE REIMBURSED FOR TRAVEL? 

We want to make sure that as many people as possible are able to volunteer with us and that there are no barriers to volunteer involvement. Our Volunteer Expenses Policy sets out our approach towards the reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket travel expenses that you incur while volunteering.

CAN I CHOOSE WHICH DAYS I GO INTO SCHOOL? 

The school will allocate days and times that fit around the daily activities and curriculum - these may be in the morning or afternoon. You can then decide which timeslot works for you through our app. 

DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR THE DBS? 

No, we cover the cost of your first DBS check, but it is important you sign up to the ID Update Service to ensure you do not pay for additional checks that are required when we run annual checks on your enhanced DBS certificate. 

WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING WITH ME TO THE INTERVIEW FOR THE DBS CHECK? 

Please see the link to what ID is acceptable for DBS checks: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/documents-the-applicant-must-provide 

HOW LONG DOES THE DBS CHECK TAKE? 

We work with a third party to complete DBS checks. These can take up to six weeks, however, it is normally within 2 weeks. 

I HAVEN’T RECEIVED MY DBS CHECK EMAIL, WHAT DO I DO? 

If your application has been successful, you will receive an email from us with the link to the UCheck DBS service site. If you have not received it, please check your spam folder and contact us if you still have concerns at info@bookmarkreading.org. 

WHO DO I NEED FOR A REFERENCE? 

One referee must be your current or most recent employer. If you have not been employed before then you can provide a referee from your most recent educational institution. If you have worked with children in the past as a volunteer or paid role, this must be your other referee.  

CAN I HAVE TATTOOS ON SHOW AT SCHOOL? 

We pride ourselves on our diversity. Some schools may, however, require that your tattoos are covered, and we will let you know if this is the case.  

I HAVE A STRONG ACCENT, IS THAT A PROBLEM? 

We aim for a diverse group of volunteers. If you feel your accent may be particularly difficult for children to understand, please contact one of us to arrange a telephone meeting.  

WHAT IF THERE’S A LANGUAGE BARRIER BETWEEN ME AND THE CHILD? 

We provide you with the basics of working with EAL (English as an Additional Language) students. 

WHERE DO I NEED TO GO FOR MY INTERVIEW? 

Your interview location will be provided to you when booking in your time slot. 

THERE ARE NO SCHOOLS IN MY AREA, SHOULD I STILL REGISTER? 

We are currently working with schools in the 12 inner London boroughs and the City of London. We will be expanding nationwide from 2020 onwards. Please still register and we will contact you when schools become available in your area. 

WHAT WILL I BE READING? 

During your reading session you will be reading a banded (or school) book with the pupil and one they have chosen for themselves from the school library or, appropriate material of interest to the child that you have brought into the session. Guidance on this is covered in training. 

WILL I RECEIVE TRAINING BEFORE MY FIRST READING SESSION? 

You will have completed all Bookmark training, including safeguarding, before you can go into schools. 

CAN I VOLUNTEER AT MORE THAN ONE SCHOOL? 

Working with more than one child is a great way to develop your skills further and you may be able find timeslots one after the other in the same school – you do this through our app. If you choose to work with more than one school, please allow yourself enough time between sessions to travel and to allow for any late running that may happen. 


I’m already a volunteer

I CAN'T LOG ON. WHAT DO I DO?

Please follow the reset password option. If you still can't log on, please contact help@bookmarkreading.org 

I HAVE A CONCERN IN RELATION TO SAFEGUARDING. WHAT DO I DO?

Please contact our Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), Kitty Higgins immediately at kitty.higgins@bookmarkreading.org 

WHAT IF I CAN’T MAKE A READING SESSION?

We hope that you will be able to make your sessions, but should you be unable to or you need to cancel a session, follow the instructions on the app. You have access to the teacher’s email address which you can use to notify, engage and correspond with the class teacher. We ask that you give as much notice as possible, in order that the teacher can rearrange.

WHAT SHALL I WEAR TO SCHOOL?

Consider you are working with a child and dress appropriately. Appearance policies will vary from school to school, so please check in with them prior to your first day.

WHAT IF I’M LATE?

If you are running late, please contact the school directly. You can find the school phone number on the app.

WHAT DO I SAY AT THE SCHOOL RECEPTION on my first day?

For your first reading session, please arrive 15 minutes before it is scheduled. When arriving at the school, please have you ID ready and let them know you are a Bookmark volunteer. You will receive an induction to the school which will include; relevant policies and procedures, access to the Bookmark Box, location of reading spaces and an introduction to your reader.

WILL THE TEACHER BRIEF ME ON THE CHILD?

A member of the school staff will introduce you to your reader on your first session. The teacher will also have published some information on the child via the app.

HAS ALL THE ADMIN BEEN DONE? WILL THE SCHOOL KNOW TO EXPECT ME?

Yes. Our system has taken care of everything! 

WHAT IF THE CHILD CRIES DURING A READING PROGRAMME?

Don't worry. You will never be solely responsible for the child and we provide you with training on behaviour and engagement

WHAT IF I CANNOT COMPLETE THE VOLUNTEER PROGRAMME OR IF I GO OFF ILL LONG TERM?

If you cannot complete the programme for any reason, please get in contact with us at Bookmark as early as possible. 

CAN I CONTACT THE TEACHER DIRECTLY?

Once you have been selected to volunteer with a pupil, the teacher will provide you with their email address and an optional mobile number.

DO I HAVE TO HAVE ANOTHER DBS CHECK IF I DON’T VOLUNTEER FOR MORE THAN 3 MONTHS?

Yes. We ask all our volunteers to sign up to the DBS ID update service which allows us to run a check on your enhanced DBS certificate free of charge. Unfortunately, if we do not receive confirmation that you have signed up 30 days after your first DBS check, we cannot cover the cost of a new DBS check.

WHEN DO I USE THE APP AND WHAT FOR?

Our Volunteer App is very intuitive and easy to use. We will give instructions of how and when to download the app.

WHERE CAN I PARK MY CAR / MOTORBIKE?

Please check with your school if unsure. 

DO WE SPEAK WITH THE PARENTS OF THE CHILDREN WE READ WITH?

No, you will not be expected to talk to the parents. 

CAN I SPEAK TO OTHER VOLUNTEERS?

Yes, we encourage volunteers to chat about their experiences and share ideas; please join our Facebook group. In the future, there will be a chat function available through the app. 

WHAT DO I NEED TO TAKE WITH ME TO A SESSION?

Please bring your DBS certificate and ID to school with you on your first session. Thereafter, please bring your Bookmark ID and arrive at school with lots of energy and enthusiasm for reading.

CAN I DO MORE THAN 1 READING SESSION A DAY WITH THE SAME PUPIL?

No, it is important for the educational development of the child that they receive two reading sessions on different days each week for the 6 week period. You can, however, do additional sessions with different children. 

CAN I DO MORE THAN 1 READING SESSION A DAY WITH DIFFERENT PUPILS?

Yes, if there are multiple readers registered in a school, you can select to read with as many children as you like.

WHAT DATA WILL BOOKMARK READING HOLD ABOUT ME AS A VOLUNTEER?

Bookmark will hold data that is required of us by law to satisfy legal obligations as well as to fulfil our Safer Recruiting policy. We will only ever hold other details that you have agreed for us to retain to hold. We are compliant with GDPR requirements.

I AM GETTING TOO MANY NOTIFICATIONS, WHAT DO I DO?

There will always be some Volunteers who prefer lots of notifications and some who do not. We are continually looking at ways to find that balance as our platform grows and develops. We are aiming for minimal email notifications and most alerts will appear in the Volunteer App.