I spent Friday at Ysgol Esgob Morgan, the primary school in St Asaph where I’m patron of reading. I chose the right day – it was ‘Chippy Friday’ where the children get chips in a paper bag like in a real fish and chip shop. In your face, Jamie Oliver!
It was such a pleasure returning to Esgob Morgan, especially as the new library extension is now complete. Did I tell you about that? Apparently the pupils have been borrowing so many books from the library they needed a larger space for more stock. It’s the POR Effect, baby.
Headteacher Tim Redgrave standing in the newly extended library section.
Check out those funky stools and the new bookshelves waiting to be filled.
Ysgol Esgob Morgan truly is a school that reads. There are signs everywhere; not only has the library been extended but every classroom has something bookish going on. You might think you’d find the same in all primary schools but it’s simply not the case. I’ve been in schools with cabinets bursting with sports trophies but no library – or a library used as a dumping ground for lost property. I’ve seen walls full of ‘connectives’ and ‘vocabulary’ but no sign of poems or book reviews. Ysgol Esgob Morgan isn’t like that. Ysgol Morgan is a school that reads – and reads for pleasure. It always has done, to be fair, but the patron scheme has given it that extra dimension and impetus. I’m like the ketchup on the chips on Chippy Friday!
First I visited Mrs Bailey’s Year 5s. They have been working through the play I wrote especially for them (The Boy who Wouldn’t Read) and couldn’t wait to act it out for me. After that they gave me a whole list of books they thought might switch the main character in the play, Bradley, on to books. Here are some of their recommendations:
The Magnetic Banana – Steve Barlow ans Steve Skidmore
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (the third wheel) – Jeff Kinney
Kidnap in the Caribbean (their current class read) – Lauren St John
Mr Stink – David Walliams
How much poo does an elephant do? Mitchell Symons (non-fiction)
Stinky Street – Helena Pielichaty
The Twits – Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl
The Naughtiest Girl in School – Dorothy Edwards
Billionaire Boy – David Walliams
Starring Tracey Beaker – J Wilson
Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket
Foul Play – Tom Palmer
Gangsta Granny – David Walliams
Ratburger – David Walliams
It’s amazing how quickly David Walliams’ writing has gained in popularity; he is being touted as the new Roald Dahl. Watch out Matilda! What I do like is the variety of authors on the Y5 list, many of whom are actually alive and have books published this century, which quite frankly makes a refreshing change. I have an inkling that Bradley would go for the poo book on this list. He loves anything poo-based, does our Bradley.
After break it was across the corridor to Mrs Dalton’s Year 6 class. They have been reading my book Simone’s Letters and read out poems they’d written based on Simone’s poem about leaving primary school.
The poems were excellent – I was moved and genuinely impressed by the standard of writing. I was impressed by the shiny book of book reviews the class is compiling to leave as a legacy for next year’s Y6, too (a POR idea). How’s that for sharing ideas? They’d done some amazing creative writing based around their class read, Gill Lewis’s Sky Hawk, too. I can’t take any credit for that – Mrs Dalton leads the way in the creative writing department.
Class 6′s work in progress – a book of book reviews that
will be passed on to the new Class 6 in September
Following my ‘Chippy Friday’ lunch – made all the more entertaining by sitting with the mega-fun Y3s, I joined Mr Hatwood’s Year Four class. Before my visit they had all submitted ideas as to what we could do together in their session. We decided to use ten minutes for Q and As and spend the rest of the time on creating a new character for my Girls FC Parrs U11s team. They were fully absorbed and, again, fab to be with. I can’t wait to see who Megan’s new team-mates will be. By the way, don’t you love Mr Hatwood’s blossoming ‘Reading Tree’ with its leaves full of book recommendations? Again, his idea, not mine.
Take a leaf out of Class 4… and yes, those are pages from one of my books on
display in the background together with the letters I send to the pupils.
As patron of reading I don’t expect that the school only reads my books exclusively
or any such daftness but it’s gratifying to see my letters are displayed and read.
If a school has a patron of reading, it’s important visitors know who it is, what they
write and what the do in the role.
Last but not least I caught up with Mrs Ritchie’s Year 3s. They’re a bubbly lot who are so switched on to reading it’s ridiculous. This classroom boasts a Tardis, a giant and a poet (Mrs Ritchie, though she’s too shy to admit it). Class 3′s POR initiative this term is to ‘shadow’ the Mega Reads book award. They will be blogging about the four titles on the short-list and voting on the same day as the Ellis Guilford Family of Schools in Nottingham on June 18th. I read a chapter from one of the short-listed books, Simon Bartram’s Clone Chaos, then spent much of the time signing postcards – it’s a hard life, eh?
Finally, the whole school met for assembly. I took the opportunity to remind them that the 2013 Summer Reading Challenge was imminent and that – no pressure – they had a 100% participation rate to equal. Wowzer! I ended with a reading from There’s Only One Danny Ogle – the bit where the tinky-winky falls off, of course. Leave on a high, that’s what I say. See you soon, Ysgol Esgob Morgan. You rock!
To find out how your school can get its own patron of reading go to the Patron of Reading section on my homepage.