Reading is not just something your English teacher enjoys

This school week opened with many of our teaching and pastoral staff reading lines from some of their favourite books in assembly. Children’s heads swivelled from left to right and front to back, as each member of staff took their turn in reading aloud their chosen lines. The silent message? Reading is not just something your English teacher enjoys: your science, language, history, sports, drama and maths teacher; as well as your head teacher, Junior School head teacher, school nurse and school matron also read for pleasure – and our staff were proud to let our pupils know this fact.

Mark Twain said that “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot.”

The pupils at FHS know what these advantages are – they are told often enough by many parents, their English teachers and in the reading assemblies throughout the year. In the past I have used scientific facts (reading boosts flexibility and creativity), enticements of improved exam success (regular reading develops your memory recall) promises of future social successes (reading can help to develop your conversational skills) as well as chances of forming successful relationships (reading develops your empathy) to prise our pupils’ attention away from their blue screens and X boxes of an evening, in favour of a good read. However this week, I wanted pupils to remember that reading can also be fun.

The reading competition was launched to highlight this often over looked fact – and over 55 members of our school community ran the gauntlet of taking a photograph while reading in an interesting (but not dangerous!) place!

We showed the compilation of the entries in the aforementioned assembly this week and it was a greeted rather enthusiastically by the pupils and staff alike. I even think one or two of the older (I’m-too-cool-for school-and-for-this- competition) students might have even regretted not taking part in the fun… I am looking forward to delivering an assembly to the Junior School next week, where they too, recumbent after a week of frenzied Eskdale Festival activities, will be able to see the result of all of their reading selfies.

Celebrating reading has been a feature of the week, with the front covers of novels being used as stimulus in drama lessons; students designing book covers in art and tutor groups trying their best to win a chocolate prize by matching the book excerpt read in assembly to the correct title and author.  The Year 7 – 9 assembly was held in the Barn by candlelight as I joined Mr Instone and Mrs Jeeves in reading the openings of some of our favourite books to the shadowy listeners. Every lesson on Thursday (World Book Day) began with either a 10 minutes allocation of reading time, or in some cases, with the teacher enthusiastically engaging pupils with conversation about their favourite books.  During Thursday afternoon, Year 7 – 9 also took part in an off curriculum writing activity where they were charged with the task of writing a 500 word story for the Fyling Hall and BBC Radio2 short story competition.

If only one or two more of our student community pick up a book rather than switch on a screen, then it has been a great success.

Claire Park

Head of English, Curriculum and Enrichment