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End of term one reading celebration

Posted by Dee on January 10, 2014 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Well what a fantastic term it has been, and what a privilege it is to be the patron of reading for Beacon View Primary Academy! It is so lovely to see the increase in numbers of students who are enjoying reading in their own time. This term we have also enjoyed:

  1.  being interviewed about the patron of reading initiative by BBC Radio Solent
  2. being shortlisted for an award for drawings and stories written about museum artefacts (which are currently on display at the Natural History Museum in Portsmouth, and the award ceremony is in January 2014)
  3. taking part in two all school reading related competitions
  4. watching a video of clips from writers sharing with us why they think reading is great fun
  5. starting to steer the direction of book four in the Portal Series by reading each chapter as I write it and making choices in the voting polls
  6. making a literacy chain (each link has the title of a book read in term one)
  7. exploring new ways to enjoy reading books

At the end of each term I hold an all school reading celebration assembly where we celbrate all the great things students have done in relation to reading. At the celebration assembly at the end of term one there were:

 12 Super Star Readers – chosen for reading 3 times a week plus an additional reason such as: huge improvements with attitude to reading, always reading EVERY night, reading when on holiday, challenging themselves with book choice and showing a real commitment to their reading

83 Star Readers (almost double the amount since last half term) - awarded for reading at home three or more times per week

 67 Star Book Borrowers (8 times more students borrowing library books compared to last half term!) - awarded for borrowing at least one school library book per week

8 Peer Reading Champions - awarded in recognition of the good work these Year Six students do with leading the PoWR reading groups in the weeks that I am not at the school.

There is now also the Paulsgrove Library Award, which is given each term to the child who has supported the local public library the most ( by book borrowing, attending activities and by their good behaviour in the library).

 Well done to all the readers at Beacon View Primary Academy! 

Interview with Angela Lucey, assistant head at Beck Primary School.

Posted by [email protected] on November 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Alan Macdonald, author of the hugely popular Dirty Bertie series and about 100 other titles has recently started in his role as Patron of Reading at Beck Primary School in Sheffield. Angela Lucey, previously the English coordinator and now assistant head and Reading Recovery teacher at the school, has kindly agreed to talk about the impact that the scheme is having on their children and staff.


Why did you decide to get a Patron of Reading for your school?

Our school is located on a large council estate in Sheffield. The population we serve is one of the most deprived with our percentage of free school meals being way above the national average. It follows that reading isn't always at the top of our families agenda. As literacy co-ordinator I worked for many years to improve reading standards within school and these have improved year on year and whilst this was very pleasing I still felt that something was missing. I went to a conference and a speaker opened with the line 'If I could give you one tip for the future, reading would be it.' Something clicked and we set about trying to show our children and families that reading has a direct impact on their future. Later, I attended Active Citizen training with the National Literacy Trust and from that came an email from Jon Biddle regarding the Patron of Reading scheme and I thought this could be the missing link. When we approached Alan he didn't immediately say yes. Another school had also approached him and he asked us both to answer some questions (see below) to help him decide on a school. I have included part of my answer to his first question.

Why does your school want a Patron of Reading?

We are a very large primary school in you would be reaching a LOT of children! We are situated on a large council estate in a socially and economically deprived area.

I have been literacy co-ordinator here for several years and have been working hard to try and raise the profile of reading. Reading was seen as something that had to be done rather than to be enjoyed. What I am trying to achieve here is an environment where a love of reading is inspired in our children. We want reading to be something that is valued by our children and parents. We have invested a great deal of money into 'real' books and we try to encourage reading at any given opportunity. Despite all of our efforts we do have a significant proportion of children who do not voluntarily engage with reading. Some of our parents have low literacy levels so are unable to support their children at home and the knock on effect of this, is that they do not value literacy or give a positive message to our children about it (this is where you - hopefully- come in!)

We would like a patron so that children have a concrete example of a positive role model who can enthuse and generate excitement. I really do believe that literacy and particularly reading is the key to having a chance at success in life. We want our children to see authors as real people and realise that there is no reason that they cannot aspire to be one themselves if they choose! As well as being a role model we want our patron to have a 'presence' in school, physically and remotely! At times when we book visits, we would be wanting you to work alongside our children to help ignite the imagination, to let the mind free and see what comes! I also want them to have the opportunity to have books read to them by the voice that wrote them and for them to be able to ask questions and have discussions. I want the children to feel that we have a real connection and that the patron is interested in them and our school.

Why do you think I'd be the right author for you ?

What would you like the author to offer in practical terms - both in visits and through the general link?

Are there any specific projects/ideas you have in mind?

This was actually a great thing to do, it focussed the mind and made me really think about what we were hoping to achieve. It was also good to think about why we thought Alan was the right author, because I do think that getting the right author for the school and vice versa is key to the success of the partnership.


How do you see the partnership developing over the next couple of years?

We have five visits booked this year with Alan working with all Key Stages. The children are hugely motivated by his visits and we are working hard to take advantage of that. During his visits we have a working lunch with a designated working party to keep the momentum going. So far we have completely revamped reading areas within classrooms with all teachers taking part in a competition to put in place the most engaging book area. We have put in place a reading challenge that all children are taking part in, Alan has set the final challenge and there will be a presentation ceremony at the end of the year. We are currently shortlisting for the Beck Book Awards and children will be reading and voting for their favourite. Alan was here yesterday working with Y5 and Y6 (180 children) the response was amazing from both children and staff. I received so many positive comments from children and appreciative emails from staff.


What impact do you think it will have on children reading for pleasure?

We are already starting to see an impact. At the end of Alan's visit yesterday he kindly agreed to hold a book signing, the turnout was stunning, we never imagined that so many parents and children would purchase his books and then queue - for an hour in some cases to get them signed. They left the hall as though they were carrying a most treasured belonging, which of course is how we want our children to feel about books. I also think that having a Patron of Reading keeps reading high profile and children are constantly engaging with reading initiatives now that probably wouldn't have happened had we not put this in place. We have noticed a significant increase in the amount of reading that our children are doing, they change their books more regularly and at break times are often seen to be choosing a book over the other activities that are provided on the yards. Another great response from yesterday was when a parent remarked to me this morning that they had gone home and at bed time had snuggled up and started reading the book together - she couldn't remember the last time they had done this. I have to say I'm pretty proud of what we are achieving together here.


How have the staff of the school supported the initiative? Has it had an impact on their attitudes to reading?

Staff have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. When we introduced the Patron of Reading idea to staff in the summer term they could all see that it would benefit our children. I don't think anyone realised the impact that it would have though. We run early transition here, the last few weeks of the year children move up to their next year's teacher and we used this as an opportunity to run a mini topic on Alan's books throughout school. This was really beneficial as it familiarised children and staff with a wide range of his work - he immediately had status! The workshops that Alan is running on his visits here this year have been really well received so far, the staff were equally as fired up as the children. We have always tried to be 'reading friendly' but there has been a definite shift in attitudes and reading is now right there in the centre of everything that is going on. That's made me incredibly happy!


Is there any advice that you would give to schools (and authors) who would like to get involved?

The first thing is to do it, absolutely and without hesitation I would say that. Secondly spend some time thinking about your children in school, what their interests are and whether there are any particular target groups you want to try and engage. For us it was important to engage the boys by choosing an author who would appeal to them as well as girls and to try and find someone who would have an impact from nursery right through to year 6. I'm delighted that Alan agreed to be our Patron because he is perfect for us. Equally, from an authors point of view I am sure the same applies, the school has to fit what they are interested in and hopefully they have a shared vision about what they would like to achieve. Maybe you should ask Alan about the authors point of view he can no doubt add more about that!


Any other comments

Only to say that we haven't had a moments regret about getting involved with this. I think it has been one of the greatest factors in raising the profile of reading that I've put in place, it's also been significant in team working, we now have a strong working party all working together to promote reading, whether that be in the curriculum, the reading environment or reading for pleasure. Yesterday after what had been a really successful day I went home and thought...'when I leave this place I think this will be the thing of which I am most proud.'

PoR visit

Posted by Rhian Jones on November 1, 2013 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (1)

I was extremely pleased with our first visit from our Patron of Reading, Damian Harvey last week! From a whole school assembly first thing in the morning until 3:00pm....he didn't stop!! Brilliant story telling.....every single child listening intently to every word....the sound of the pupils giggling to his jokes, accents and actions were a tonic!! If this sound could just be boxed up and kept in my office to be played during the toughest of would certainly put a smile on my face!! A true reminder of why schemes like these are so important....happy pupils = engaged and enthusiastic learners! Damian Harvey certainly managed this....our most reluctant readers even joined in....not only smiling in response to an insight into Damian's books but also offering to stand up in front of the class to dress up as one of Damian's characters from his Robo-runners series of books!! A brilliantly proud moment! The next sessions are planned to develop writing with a targeted group of learners.....I think they'll be in for a real treat!! A great, inspiring programme - thank you! :)

Literary Treasure Chest

Posted by Dee on August 28, 2013 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I have spent much of my spare time this summer working on things related to being a Patron of Reading including prepping all my reading sessions for the first term, writing a 'welcome back' newsletter with the reading list for the term, plus a couple of activities for the pupils, parents and staff to do and writing a Halloween story both in picture book verse and as mid grade lit.

I joined and completed the Summer Reading Challenge and enjoyed picture books to YA. I don't think the smell of those stickers will ever be erased from my memory though…especially because my 10 year old son thought chasing me around the house with them was great fun. I practically had to beg to get him to stick them on his creepy house poster. Ok, I did beg him.

My new website dedicated to my writing for and work with children is live, and one of my favourite sections in it is the literary treasure chest.  Click here to have a look.  Please have a look around the rest of my website and let me know what you think. Is there anything you think should be there that isn't?

I am looking forward to my first sessions with my PoR groups on the 18th of September, and I will come back and let you know how they went. Good luck to everyone making school visits in September, I hope you have a wonderful time!

Summer Postcard Challenge

Posted by Rachel Ward on July 16, 2013 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (4)

When I heard about the Patron of Reading Scheme I thought what a good idea it was and it sounded like something I could probably do. I put my name forward and it took a few weeks for Jennifer Jacques Van-Baaren, English Teacher and Literacy Co-ordinator at Pontypridd High School, to get in touch and ask if I would be their Patron of Reading. I visited in February, and the deal was sealed.

As my first project, I’ve set the staff and students a Summer Postcard Challenge. All they have to do is tell me about the best book they read this summer, writing the title, author and a sentence about why they like it on a postcard or the back of a stuck down envelope. I’ll put all the entries into a hat and one lucky winner will receive signed copies of all my books (plus maybe some extra goodies).

The idea just popped into my head. It’s easy, fun and, rather sneakily, it’s a good way for me to find out what students are reading and enjoying (at least the ones that do read at the moment).

As I live a fair way from the school, I couldn’t launch the challenge in person so I recorded a little video (with a lot of help from my daughter) and posted it on YouTube . The video is being shown to English classes during the last week of term, there will be an article and link on the school website, and Jennifer, the school and I have also tweeted about it.

Twitter is a marvellous thing and we’ve had retweets from Ash Morgan who featured on The Voice and from Welsh rugby players. Ash has promised to send in a postcard about his favourite summer read too! The more we can show that all sorts of cool people read, the better!

I’ve no idea how many postcards I’ll receive – the idea may or may not work - but I’ve already had a lot of fun with it and Jen assures me that the students are buzzing about it. Let’s hope the sunny weather lasts through the school holidays and September brings a hatful of good books.

Mega Reads Shadowing

Posted by Helena Pielichaty on June 26, 2013 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Here's an example of cross-fertilisation of ideas  that I thought worked really well with my patron of reading school, Ysgol Esgob Morgan. I'd been asked to help launch 'Mega Reads', a mini- book award set up by a consortium of schools in Nottingham. The aim was for me to visit each of Y3s in the six primary schools  and advise them about what to look for in a good book, cover design etc. Heidi Shrewell- Cooper, the consortium co-ordinator, had already chosen the four titles, which were:

A Boy, A Bear and A Boat by Dave Shelton

Clone Chaos by Simon Bartram

Winnie Goes for Gold by Laura Owens/Korky Paul

Class Three All At Sea by Julia Jarman/Lynne Chapman


Having completed the visits, I was due to return on June 18th to help with the quiz for the Grand Finale. All good fun! After the first visit I had the brainwave of inviting my Class 3 teacher at Esgob Morgan, Jenny Ritchie, to 'shadow' the award with her class. Ever the enthusiast, Jenny agreed. Her class read the same titles within the same time-frame, announcing their winner on the same day. I thought it would be great if the classes could blog each other with their opinions etc  during the process but that proved too difficult to organise.

In the end the Nottingham consortium chose Clone Chaos as their winner but YEM went for A Boy, A Bear and A Boat by an overwhelming majority. Jenny's class all completed a tick list I'd prepared under headings such as 'It stayed in my head afterwards 'There's a bit in it I will always remember' 'If I could choose one of the books to keep forever it would be...'

Jenny's feedback about the shadowing experience was really positive. She wrote: 'Thanks for including us in this terrific project - we've loved taking part. I've asked the children to look out for other books by these authors. I'm using extracts of your tick sheet for 'Stand up and tell us about another book you've read where... a bit has stuck in your head etc...' Jenny also mentioned that because of the time constraint she had to read aloud every day to her class, something she usually can't fit in. The consequence was the children followed the books avidly and couldn't wait for the next instalment. Win-win!



Posted by Katrina Lucas on June 14, 2013 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (2)

Since inviting our Patron, Lynne Rickards, to 'adopt' Comely Park primary in May there has been a frenzy of activity.  Lynne very kindly set up a dedicated space on her blog for the school, and the response has been phenomenal:  children are initiating really interesting conversations about reading and writing for pleasure, and are accessing the blog from both school and home.  The success of this is really down to Lynne's enthusiastic and prompt replies - the children can't wait to see if they have had a response and love to share it with their friends, creating a culture of reading that extends beyond the classroom walls.

Lynne has also helped choose our new school Makar: makar is a Scots word to describe a poet, and the position of our very own school makar was developed when Liz Lochhead was appointed Scotland's national Makar.  Our school makar writes poetry to add a pupil's perspective and commentary on various aspects of school life - such as sportsdays, charity events etc.  Their work is published in the school newsletter and on the school website on a regular basis, and Lynne hopes to be able to add their poetry to her blog as well.  Lynne will announce the winner when she comes to introduce herself to the children at our last school assembly of the year, so it's all very exciting.  I wonder what the new term will have in store?

"My" school, Larbert High School - by Nicola Morgan

Posted by Nicola Morgan on June 12, 2013 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

It struck me that some schools and authors might like to see the mini-blog I have for my activities with Larbert High School, the school in Scotland where I'm proud to be the Patron of Reading. Things have been quiet this month, partly because Scottish schools are about to close for the summer, and partly because I'm fizzily busy and preparing for a trip to do events in Asia. 

I'm planning to chat with English teachers and the librarians over the summer to see what we'll do next year. Looking forward to it!

Author exclusivity

Posted by [email protected] on June 10, 2013 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

David Bedford has some thoughts on author exclusivity with the Patron of Reading idea. With his permission, I've pasted them below. It's something that has been raised a few times before (the fact that there are many more schools than potential patrons), so it would be interesting to hear other opinions.


I'm hoping the experience of being a Patron will give me the chance to put some theory into practice, and 'add on' an expertise to my regular school visits. Not all schools will want that of course, but so far I've found that I'm talking a lot more about literacy in staff rooms... rather than having very little to offer on the subject in the past, I can now join in the conversation.


It would be a big help to my learning, and great for cross-feeding ideas, if I did even more long-term associations with schools, though I tend to agree that keeping the Patron more exclusive (to one school, or one primary and one high, in my case) is going to give it more perceived value. There's always Writer in Residence etc., which I'm also interested in because - as with the Active Cits - I think a cross-feeding of ideas may be most productive (as it was in my science career) and the more inputs the better. Perhaps the Patrons ought to have a dedicated conference some time ...


David Bedford

Patron of Reading blog

Posted by [email protected] on April 29, 2013 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

This is the place for authors and schools to post comments, thoughts and ideas about the Patron of Reading scheme. You might wish to publicise an upcoming visit or share something that has been particularly successful, but please feel free to post anything that you feel will be of interest to others. It will take a couple of minutes to register as a member of the site the first time you post. However, after that you just simply need to log-in.