Schools campaign – THE WINNERS
In January 2012, the Trust launched a campaign to find out what was done in schools to spread a Joy of Reading… the competition ran until the end of the summer term and got hundreds of wonderful submissions. We plan to make a database of all the best ideas with the aim that others will copy and pass on things that work.
At the start of the new school year, our special Judging panel met to decide which 10 schools would be winning £1000 worth of books.
Judges praised the overall enthusiasm displayed by all entries and said it was clear that schools are already doing a variety of great things. Julia Eccleshare praised the passion that was evident; Danny Hahn highlighted one winning school’s comment that their overall top tip was to “just make reading normal”. Michael Rosen said as far as he was concerned “one single initiative is not enough, the key thing is to do LOTS of different things,… and keep doing them!”
Chair of the Siobhan Dowd Trust Tony Bradman is proud to announce the following winning entries (with the original submissions), who will all receive £1000 worth of books selected by Danny and Julia:
Mitchell Brook Primary, Brent – 24 hour Read-a-thon to raise money for new books
At Mitchell Brook, teachers do their best to instil a love and passion of reading amongst pupils. As our school is situated in a deprived area, many children don’t have access to a wide variety of reading material and library closures have limited this also. To raise money to begin our own school library, we carried out a 24 hour Read-A-Thon, which was a huge success. Money was raised and it inspired, encouraged and spurred on children with their reading. We are one step closer to starting up a library but still have a long way to go. The impact this school event has had on the children has been outstanding. They are now more inclined to read and are desperate to have a library of their own, so they can choose from a good selection of books and texts to read.
Mitchell Brook carries out a poetry competition, called ‘Poetry Slam’, where they go head to head against another poetry acts in the borough. This initiative is led and arranged by myself and again makes a huge difference to the confidence of the pupils and the quality of the work they produced is great.
At Mitchell Brook a unique excitement and buzz has been created around Literacy and our children would really benefit from having funding to begin a school library so that buzz can be continued.
Marvels Lane Primary School, Lewisham – Reading Shacks
To encourage children in Reception and KS1 to read and engage with books while in our outdoor learning areas we have created two ‘Reading Shacks’. These ‘Reading Shacks’ are small wooden sheds which we have filled with exciting and interesting
books as well as rugs,bright posters, cushions, teddies and an old sofa. Although most of the contents such as the rug, sofa, teddies etc have been donated, begged, or borrowed, we invested in lots of new books so that the children would value the
books in the Shacks. Because many children in Reception and KS1 spend a high percentage of their time outside we felt we needed to offer a high quality experience and to make the Reading Shacks a desirabal,exciting and cosy space for
the children to use. The children love using the Shacks independently to select and read books as well as using it with adults or children from KS2 to read together. The Reading Shack in the KS1 area is regularly transformed in to a ‘library’ where
children can engage in role-play as well as reading. The children learn to value the books in the Reading Shacks and also see reading as part of everyday life in our outdoor areas. We have also noticed because a high percentage of boys choose to
learn outside it has encourged them to engage more with books as they do not see the shacks as places where you have to be quiet or to sit still. Both children and teachers all Love our Reading Shacks.
Redbridge Primary School, Redbridge – good EAL work for families
94% of our pupils speak English as an additional language so we work hard to engage the whole family in the reading process. Each Friday at 8.30 a.m. we hold Books for Breakfast for parents and children. Staff are on hand to support and model reading techniques to parents. At the end a breakfast is provided free of charge.There is also a weekly book making workshop where an average of 20 parents each week make a book with their child. Alongside this we have a vibrant library maintained by a library assistant where every child takes home two books a week. In the library is a special storytelling chair.
We have lots of authors to visit the school; at least one a term. Indeed,this week a group of pupils met Olympian Christine Ohuruogu at Stratford Circus launching her new book.
There is a huge focus on good literature in the curriculum with lots of book based topics.We have regular dress up, celebratory days such as Gruffalo Day and Super Heroes Day. Each class makes books and we value the home languages of pupils so we have story telling clubs in the following languages: Tamil and Bengali. Somali club has just started.
We do hold a book week twice a year but every day is a celebration of literature at Redbridge Primary. We are proud that every child and every adult is a reader!
King Richard School, Portsmouth – Does a Variety of things, but Judges especially liked this is a secondary school that looks at Greenaway shortlisted picture books
We study graphic novels such as Shaun Tan’s “Arrival” and Brian Selznick’s “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” to encourage our students to write creatively. We read and study the Greenaway shortlisted picture books, take part in the Portsmouth Book Award and read and judge the shortlisted novels; we read the most powerful non-fiction texts we can find such as the Human Rights Watch Report on Child Soldiers and the International Labour Organisation report on Child Labour. Last year The British Heart Foundation produced a brilliant website connected with the zebrafish and “mending broken hearts” which all our Year 10 read and responded to.
We study and encourage our students to read the work of authors who have a local connection: Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are two of the most important. Every year, one of the novels our students read and study has a historical theme and we read and research documents connected with the social and historical context.
We read the scripts of the best speeches ever made and all our students write their own speeches. We enter as many national writing competitions as possible like the Foyle’s Young Poets Award and the Amnesty International Human Rights Reporter competition. Every year the Poetry society produce small booklets of poems and we study these to inspire our pupils to write their own poems and create their own anthologies.
It’s made a big difference; our English GCSE results went up 18% last year to 59% A-C and were the highest ever.
Slough & Eton Business College, Slough – Vampire v Angels read off
We have made the library a fun, relaxed hub where the best current books are available in constantly changing displays with fun non-fiction, manga, graphic novels and hi/lo options to encourage the most reluctant readers. Pupils are encouraged to choose books for each other to get them talking about books and reading. This term so far we have had a Vampire -v- Angels read off, fantastic author Anthony McGowan in school, a vote for the best new books and lots of freebies sourced from publishers. Since January loans for books have trebled – my pupils WANT to read and love to read and we are making it FUN!
Here’s a little more on the Vampires v Angels read off:
It was a fairly low key event but one that the older teenagers really went for – we had a display with our most popular vampire books on one side and some of the newer angel books on the other (Becca Fitzpatrick, LA Weatherly) with a poster (attached). The pupils were used to the Twilight style of books but loved the idea of reading books where the angels aren’t always good and it was a way of introducing new authors in a safe fun way. It was a wee bit too successful as the display didn’t last the day – all the books were borrowed and the students all had to come back to me and vote which “side” they were on – vampires won not suprisingly!
Our teacher-Judge, Sean O’Flynn, also liked the initiative shown by Slough’s Librarian on World Book Day:
have arranged to get 400 of the free books to give to the students – Slough doesn’t actually have a bookshop so whilst a £1 voucher is great the vast majority of them won’t get used so for the younger pupils we will actually be placing a book in their hands instead. Publishers have been very supportive, sending us free stock and booksmarks etc. We have already had author Anthony McGowan in school entertaining Year 7s and next month we have Barry Hutchison for Year 8. The effect of seeing a live author has been brilliant and I have a waiting list to borrow Anthony’s books.
For World Book Night we are hoping to engage the parents a little more and will be gifting The Book Thief at a multicultural evening.
Hunters Hill Technology College – ESBD secondary school with boarders– Reading 10 books = a book prize
Children at Hunters Hill have had suffered failure in reading throughout their lives when they get to us. We aim to make reading something that they can now enjoy and which can help them throughout their lives.
The first half an hour of every day in school is dedicated to reading.
At the end of school the children return to their residential homes and while awaiting for taxis for the non residents they read. Every child who reads 10 books visits the head and is given a book of their choice.
We hold regular assemblies to celebrate achievment in reading.
We have established a very successful library club at lunchtimes.
Children are now asking to take books home.
Teachers look for opportunities to include reading e.g. drama productions -learning their scripts. Parents are always amazed at seeing their children on stage and delivering lines so confidently.
Children are becoming more discerning about their reading material and are now actually asking us to get books by specific authors. At every opportunity we celebrate reading and our childrens ability to be able to read at whatever level they are.
Our children now believe that they are actually readers
Worle School. Weston-Super-Mare – Variety, but the Speed Dating appealed to Judges:
© All our KS3 English lessons start with 10 minutes ‘reading for pleasure’ time.
© We shadow read two book awards. For the ‘Costa’ book awards staff read against the students, for their relevant categories.
© Years 7, 8 and 9 all have 30 minutes reading time a week, in the library.
© We’ve done ‘speed dating’ with their favourite books!
© Students are encouraged to suggest new titles to be purchased for the library.
© Reading groups, both for the staff and students, are active and well supported.
© Book quizzes and swaps are popular and enable access to free books.
© We attract students to try new genres/titles with eye catching displays in the school, such as ‘desert island books’ or ‘extreme reading’
© Students have made ‘Themed’ book boxes around a chosen title.
© We strive to create a welcoming and appealing reading environment in the library.
© We also make full use of the ‘Booked up’ scheme and free vouchers for ‘World Book Day’.
© Students use links to reading websites via our website and VLE.
© World Poetry Day is marked by students reading poetry and writing their own, which are then hung on our hawthorn tree, forming our own ‘poet tree’.
All of this has helped to raise literacy levels and encourages students to read for pleasure which will hopefully give them a life long love of reading.
We started by asking the students to bring in a copy of their all time favourite book to the next ‘Bookworms’ meeting. Before they arrived, the teacher and myself put out two rows of chairs facing each other. We all sat down with our books and then had one minute to ‘sell’ our book (or date!!??) to the person immediately opposite us. When our minute was up the opposite person had to then do the same whilst the first ‘dater’ listened to them. One side then moved along one seat to meet a new person and the process started all over again. This was great fun, somewhat lively and noisy.
Old Buckenham High School, Norfolk – 2/3 staff read recommended teen fiction over Christmas holidays – then kids had to find who has read what – County Library Service want to turn this school’s practise into a model…
In the Autumn term I asked staff if they would like to read some teen fiction over the Christmas holidays. 37 teachers and associate staff (nearly two-thirds of the staff) asked for books which I matched up to their interests. I then wrapped them in old magazine pages and gave them out on the last day of term at the Christmas dinner.
I created badges of their particular book cover and they are wearing them today (World Book Day). Students have to make a list of who has read what and they get a prize for the most they can find. The students are not only furiously trying to locate who has a badge but also are asking those staff without one why not! Teachers are reporting that students are proud when they find someone else who has read the same book as themselves or, if they haven’t read that book, what the teacher thought of it.
This year we also launched a KS3 Reading Star Award which has seen an increase in borrowing figures of 60%. Students are now buying their own books which they treasure highly and share with each other. After this success we are launching a KS4 Award to motivate students to carry on reading through their GCSE years.
Ravensbourne School, Bromley – “Take a risk” (books borrowed wrapped in brown paper)
We all carry a reading book all the time and are all reading something, ask any of us, students from Years 7 to 13, Head Teacher, Librarian, Science Teacher, Teaching Assistant, Business Manager. We asked the Head Teacher recently what he was reading and he said ‘The Wolf Report’, sounded really exciting but turns out it was a review of vocational education! In our school to not carry a book is weird, not the other way round. We read at the beginning of a lesson to relax before the hard work begins, when waiting for assembly to start and when we have finished a test. We have thriving Libraries packed with lovely books because our Head Teacher knows libraries are important. Our professional Librarians organize loads of fun activities and competitions for us like ‘Take a Risk’ where you borrow a book from the Library wrapped up in brown paper and string and you get lots of chances to win a prize, ‘Speed Read Dating’, Readathons, ‘Guess Who’s Reading’ (photographs of people from our school community reading and you have to guess who they are), and Reading Buddies schemes. We plan to stage a reading flash mob soon but have to perfect our dance routine first. We have lots of Library lessons which involve books and reading, from a Year 7 Treasure Hunt to learn how to find books to Year 13 English Literature students picking a book to chat about. Our top tip is to just make reading normal.
35 – Tobermory High School, Argyll & Bute – Whole school reading film
We are a small 3-18 school with approximately 260 pupils. We want to make reading visible and high status, and particularly to show men reading.
We decided to film the whole school reading ‘The Gingerbread Man’ to tie in with World Read Aloud Day. Pupils, teachers, and support staff read a line each, and the finished film was shown at a celebratory assembly.
Following this success we decided to tap into the Rugby World Cup, and filmed members of the local rugby club, whose members include former pupils, reading Kipling’s ‘If.’ S1, S2 and all school rugby players watched the Scotland-Georgia match, and ‘If’ was premiered at half time, accompanied by bacon rolls. Our rugby development officer followed the match with a coaching session, and a discussion about the way matches are reported in the media, including newspapers and magazines.
Our latest venture into film has been a recording of ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ for World Book Day – again the whole school took part, and we continued the reading theme with a whole school Drop Everything and Read.
These films are fun to make and fun to watch. The whole school is involved, so everyone is seen to be a ‘reader,’ enjoying reading a story. We get people talking about the latest film, and by extension, reading generally. All Departments feel involved in events such as World Book Day – a knock-on effect has been 100% enthusiastic support of our Drop Everything and Read. Reading becomes a sociable activity.
Two further schools Judges decided will get £150 to spend on books of their choice (you’ll see the significance of £150 with the first school’s initiative) :
Rothwell Junior School, Northamptonshire – Children shop for books in local bookshop
We regularly take small and varied groups of pupils to our local book shop where they have a budget of £15 each to buy new books for the school library. There are no restrictions on what the children can choose as long as it’s something they want to read. The books have a special sticker inside with the child’s name on and the children talk about their choices in assembly. We then display the books prominently in the library – within hours the books have all been borrowed!
Netherfield Primary, Notts – Regular overnight reading camps / Bed in library / Building storybook houses in playground
Every half term we hold a “Reading Camp” for children who have read lots at home. We pitch tents in school, and children get to sleep overnight in the school building! Among other activities, the children get to build a bonfire and learn how to gather kindling and use a fire-strike to light their own fire. After the fire is lit, we sing songs and toast marshmallows! Finally, all of the children snuggle into their sleeping bags whilst we share bedtime stories. This initiative really keeps the profile of reading high in our school and is a really cost-effective way of rewarding children who have a good attitude towards reading.
We have recently transformed our library into an Enchanted Castle! One of the areas in the library has a “Wrought Iron King’s bed” (an Ebay Ikea bargain!) complete with cushions, furry throws and opulent drapes. The children love to curl up in the bed and share books together. The library is open at every break and lunch time for library club.
A major project that’s happening at our school at the moment is our “Whole New World” project, designed to get children interested in stories set in imaginary worlds. Children have been involved in reading as many fairy / fantasy stories as possible and then taking their ideas to create our own characters and magical lands! The children then worked with a carpenter to actually create permanent houses and structures for their characters in the school grounds!
The great thing about the competition is that as well as celebrating the great work that clearly going on by Teachers and Librarians, the ideas are already being copied – two Judges went away with ideas they’re already planning to pinch and adapt to their schools…
Thanks to all schools who entered. We wish we could send books to you all, but many of your submissions will form our database the Trust will be working on over the next few months.
Next year we are planning on a School Libraries project – Watch this space and sign up to our new Twitter account @sdowdtrust for details!