It's back to school for pensioner Dave McGee who books in every week to help children learn one of the three Rs.

The 77-year-old is a familiar and popular face at Kearsley West Primary School  after signing up to become a Schoolreader.

And once a week he visits the school so children can read to him.

The charity - Schoolreaders - matches volunteers to schools, to help pupils improve their reading and reading confidence. 

Dave, who lives in  Walkden, says he enjoys helping children and has noticed an improvement in their reading skills since he started in October. 

Dave said: "I first heard about Schoolreaders around 12 months ago on BBC Breakfast. I said to my wife 'I could do that' and that I'd like to help children read. 

"I applied online - it took a couple of months to find me a school, but I have now been at Kearsley West since October. 

"I was made very welcome by the teachers and children when I started, the children are great. It's just to help children who probably might struggle a little with reading, might be behind." 

He added: "They see me like a grandfather figure, I'm 77 now. 

"They always call me Dave, not Mr McGee. When I go in they all say 'hi Dave', even the children from other classrooms know that. It is such a magical thing to have a child read to you. 

The Bolton News: Year 4 student Nieve reading with DaveYear 4 student Nieve reading with Dave (Image: Newsquest)

"We don't teach, we encourage them. It helps them. I've even got one girl since I've been there, she now reads to her younger sister. 

"It does bring them on. One lad was very quiet, now when I go into class he's saying 'can I go first' - it brings out a social aspect as well, encourages them to mix." 

Dave said: "I am only with them for 10 to 15 minutes. It is not about reading lots, it's about understanding what you're reading. We encourage them to read and encourage them to understand that reading as well. 

"I will say to them at the start to say when they've had enough, or when I feel they have had enough, I will end it. 

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"One day I had a newspaper in my bag, I said to one of them if you read well I'll make you a paper hat. 

"One child did very well, so went off and the next minute they all want one!" 

He added: "Kearsley West is an old school, built in the 1920s, but the headteacher Jackie Fitton is very forward-thinking, they keep up with the times. 

"When you walk down the corridor the children are always polite. 

"It is great satisfaction, it is knowing that I am of a certain age and can still help younger people. 

The Bolton News: ReadingReading (Image: Newsquest)

"The world has changed and is going very fast, but reading is a crucial part." 

Dave added: "How some of the children have progressed, it gives me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction. It is more than that, you can still be useful to society even. 

"I know down the line the children will forget about me, and that's fine, but I just hope they have got a good grounding." 

Rebecca Todd, deputy head at Kearsley West, said: "We are constantly seeking new ways to promote reading in school, and reading for pleasure. 

"We were matched with David by Schoolreaders, he came into school to make sure that the school is the right fit for him, as well as him being the right fit for the school. 

"All of the children are making progress... and they enjoy the sessions. 

"I think when they know an adult sees it as important that helps them see it as important. 

"I think people don't do it because they don't know about it. There are lots of people in David's position who have finished work and have the time, and want to offer something to the community." 

Some of children in the Year 4 class told The Bolton News why they like it so much. 

Kenya said: "When you want to read something, you need to know how to. 

Nieve said she likes "learning new words", while Thomas said he likes "all of it". 

Harris said reading with Dave "helps you more". 

Jane Whitbread, founder of Schoolreaders, said: “Children who leave primary school unable to read well can’t access their secondary schooling fully which will compromise their future life opportunities.

"Schoolreaders volunteers, like Dave, provide a crucial supplement to classroom teaching and are welcomed by schools and the children.

"If more children gain pleasure from reading from an early age and their reading fluency and confidence improves too, communities and society will reap the benefits.”