04 Mar HT Blog 23 – World Book Day
As all parents of school age children will know, the first Thursday in March is always World Book Day, a yearly event organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation to promote reading and publishing. At Daubeney over the years, we have had some spectacular efforts by both our students and our teachers to recognise this day, including some wonderful homemade costumes by a group of last year’s Year 9 students based on 101 Dalmations (to name but one of hundreds worthy of a mention) and our former Headteacher, Mr Chopping, dressing up as an unnervingly accurate Harry Potter for the day in 2013. This year, however, what we are doing is not only likely to be the most impressive attempt to promote a love of reading yet but also the best-coordinated effort ever by a number of schools. Across the Challenger Multi Academy Trust, from Essex to Bedfordshire, the CMAT Big Book Swap has already begun, with form groups from all schools nominating last week their favourite books which they will then this week turn into a review (based, for secondary schools, around a tweet, so only a limited number of characters) which will be stuck on the inside cover of the actual book itself (bought by CMAT colleagues) and then wrapped up and sent to their partner form group in another CMAT school. Once all of the books have been donated and received, special sections of each school’s library will be given over to books received as part of this outstanding, trust-wide initiative. In Daubeney, however, we have also made our own plans for what the day itself will look like in our school, with Miss Mann, who, of course, has recently made an excellent job of refurbishing, refreshing and remodelling, along with her team of Year 10 students, our library, very much the creative genius behind what is taking place. Initially, we had planned for any students who wanted to dress up as book character for World Book Day to bring their costumes with them and get changed at lunchtime so that there was minimal disruption to periods 1-4 (which are normal lessons), but we have been happy to amend what is happening as a result of some well-articulated and helpful comments made by members of our Daubeney community (students, parents & teachers), and as a result a letter was sent out last week explaining the following:
- Students who wish to dress up as a book character may come into school at 8.45am dressed in their costume as long as this does not interfere with the normal lessons that will take place during periods 1 – 4.
- Students who would like to come into school in non-uniform (but not dressed as a book character) may do so, but we would ask these students for a voluntary contribution of at least £1, which we will then use to buy new books for our library.
During period 5 on Thursday March 7, all students will return to their form rooms for sessions led by their form tutors, during which our young people will film their own book reviews as part of a whole-school initiative called Readio-TV. Whether students are dressing up as book characters, coming in non-uniform and donating some money towards new books for our library or simply planning to have a normal (ish) day in their usual Daubeney uniform (all options are ok!), I am keen for our whole community to take part in a worldwide event that is so much more about the promotion of reading than it ever was about dressing up, and for this reason I would remind parents that there really is no need to feel any pressure to buy anything at all for World Book Day – a willingness, on the student’s part, to get involved with what is going on is enough.
As mentioned in a recent HT Blog, reading for pleasure (here’s our recommended list!) is a vital component of any student’s attempts to be successful, not only in school but also later in life. Having a routine at home that incorporates reading is crucial if our young people, and their parents, are serious about making the most of the opportunities that will come their way over the course of their personal and professional lives. Although a love of reading starts at an early age, it’s never too late to become an avid reader, and I was delighted to read online this week that a recent study has indicated that my favourite books when I was beginning primary school (The Mr Men series – even now I probably still know them all off by heart!) have been found to offer an excellent grounding for anyone who wants to then go on to read more challenging texts. The importance of reading has also been noted in the most recent draft Ofsted framework for school inspections, with it stated that schools will be judged as inadequate if “Pupils cannot communicate, read, write or apply mathematics sufficiently well for their age and are therefore unable to succeed in the next year or stage of education, or in training or employment.” Also, the new GCSE exams, now in their third year, which our Year 10s will take next year, require all students to possess a much higher range of technical vocabulary for each subject than ever before and to be able to understand some very complex questions in order to achieve the highest grades. Although reading for pleasure can be one of the most enjoyable pastimes that an individual, young or old, can take part in, there are clearly some very serious reasons behind its promotion in schools this week and during every week of the year at Daubeney Academy; without a love of reading and an ability to do it well, it is possible that some young people may never be able to reach their potential.