Did you know that only about 10% of schools have author visits? That’s all. Ten. Per. Cent. Maybe that’s why the schools I do visit are always so brilliant; they’re the one in ten who know how exciting and enriching author visits can be, how they can help create a reading culture. Take Weston Hills Church of England Primary School that I visited yesterday. They have author visits every year. They’re also rated by Ofsted as an ‘outstanding’ school. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Every wall at Weston Hills was covered in information displayed in an inventive way.
The classrooms were all like Aladdin’s Cave: full of interesting things dangling from ceilings,
zip-wired across walls, pasted on doors. Every nook and cranny was bursting with colour and
interesting artefacts to look at and touch. Children thrive in such environments.
The first thing that happened when I arrived at the school was that the headteacher, Mrs Turnell, greeted me warmly and shook my hand. She asked if I wanted a cup of tea and said how excited the children were about meeting me. A warm welcome is so important and so very telling. It’s not that the author wants to be made a fuss of or is so ‘up themselves’ they feel they deserve special treatment but we do like to know that our day away from our writing is appreciated. Mrs Turnell made me feel that it was.
Thank you also Mrs Barmby, Mrs Upsall and Mrs Perkins for your infectious enthusiasm . Your classes were all gorgeous because of it. Thank you also to Year 6 Molly and Ashleigh for being the best bookshop assistants ever. Take a bow, Weston Hills!