Dr Patrick Ryan, the Patron of Reading at Bury St Edmunds County Upper School, ran a series of workshops for staff and students of schools in the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust on Friday 24th January 2014. The Academy Trust links Barrow Primary, Horringer Court and Westley Middle schools with County Upper in order to offer a 4 to 19 education. Staff work together to ensure that the students receive a high quality of teaching throughout their education and this was the first event where English teachers from the schools had the opportunity to work together. The CPD workshops covered academic research relating to the development of literacy skills in young children as well as the benefits of using a variety of methods to inspire and improve creative thinking and writing in students.
Pat then led storytelling sessions with students from the Primary and Middle schools, immediately followed by sessions with Upper school students. These were enjoyed by all and it was interesting for staff to see the students working in a very different environment. After lunch the sixth formers from County Upper learned about the value of storytelling and, after demonstrations and guidance, practised their skills. The plan is for these sixth formers to work as leaders in paired and shared reading with students at County Upper and then to develop reading and storytelling sessions with the feeder schools. It is very early days yet but there will now be a Tuesday lunchtime session for sixth formers, overseen by Mrs Loughton and Ms Thomas from the English faculty, and a paired reading session during Thursday morning registration overseen by Mrs Loughton.
We hope that our continuing work with our Patron and our own interest in developing a wider variety of teaching and learning will prove to be a positive addition to all of the schools in the Academy Trust. Pat is an absolute inspiration and his outstanding skills with students as well as his wealth of research and knowledge related to developing literacy make us very glad that he has agreed to be our Patron of Reading.