I'd like to be a
patron. Do I contact a school to offer my services?
The idea is that schools choose their own patron, rather than writers approaching schools. However, if you have a good relationship with a particular school, there is no reason why you can’t mention you are interested.
I have been approached by a school to be a patron. I’m keen but don’t know what it entails.
The joy of the Patron of Reading movement is that there is no set template to how it ‘should’ be done. How patrons contribute to the reading for pleasure culture in their schools varies according to the patron and the school. The emphasis should be on reading rather than creative writing (otherwise it can get confused with the Adopt an Author scheme) but otherwise the world’s your oyster. Examples of what current patrons are doing in their schools can be found on the news page. If it appeals to you, you could arrange to meet the head and discuss it further. If might help to talk to other patrons - Jon Biddle can put you in touch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the form on the 'Contact Us' page.
Is being a patron a huge commitment? I can’t really take time off from my work at the moment.
Some schools might be happy with just having you as a patron in name only but for the role to be effective and make an impact on the school does inevitably require time away from writing, not only when you visit in person but also possibly in between visits, to keep the momentum going. We advise you not to take on the role if you feel it would add pressure to your workload. While we recommend a three-year tenure as patron, some schools and patrons favour a period of one year.
Will I get my usual fee or is this a purely altruistic thing?
We strongly recommend you charge your usual daily rate and travel expenses for actual visits. Regardless of your special relationship with the school, you are still giving your time and expertise. All the extra things you volunteer to do – the newsletter, the blog, supporting funding applications, donating signed books, etc, would not be usually charged to the school.
I have agreed to be a patron at a local school but the staff seem to think I can just drop in for half an hour at short notice because I’m ‘just up the road.’ They don’t seem to think I should charge for it, either.
It is really
important to set out your parameters before you take on the role. Some patrons
who are close to their school are happy to drop in and see it as one of the
perks of living nearby; others feel that they are being taken advantage of. No
patron should be expected to give their services for free.
My role of patron started off well enough but seems to have fizzled out. The school takes ages to get back to me and doesn’t seem that interested, tbh.
Schools are busy places and staff don’t always have time to respond to every new and amazing idea out there. Sometimes, staff changes or illness mean the patron loses their go-to ‘champion’ and the champion isn’t replaced, which can lead to a communication break-down. Having a ‘patron’ is a new initiative for most schools and many don’t really know what to do once they’ve got one! However, if you feel your time is not being appreciated, contact the school and let them know how you are feeling. If you still don’t get a positive response, step down. Your time is too precious to waste.