Sunday 15 July 2012

Teacher at comp in Bradford: books and more books

Morning Michael!
Further to our Twitter exchange here are brief details of initiatives at my school to encourage reading.

I teach at a "comp" in Bradford, around 1600 students, a significant proportion of whom do not have books at home.

We have a new building (4 years old) with a large central atrium that serves as a dinner hall during lunches but is also an exhibition space, activity space etc at other times. In the atrium we have installed shelves of books. The books were initially donated by staff in order to kick-start things but their number is now added to by anyone. The idea is simple - students are free to take a book home. They may keep it, pass it on, bring it back - whatever they feel. Anyone who enters the school can donate more books to the shelves. Obviously there is a wide range of books to choose from so there is always something to match each student's interests and abilities. As the atrium is the central hub of the school and in use from 7.30am until (usually) around 4-5pm it is a really prominent feature but also, crucially (for some of our students) nobody has to make a big deal of what you are taking or when - there are still a few students that feel it isn't cool to read and they are given the chance to sneak something out without drawing attention to themselves.

The other major initiative we have is run by our librarian (technically called our literacy leader as she does so much more than run the library). We have the "FYI crew" which is a team of predominately year 7 and 8 students (merely because other year groups face insteasing pressures on their times). They run mobile libraries around the school at breaks and lunchtimes. Each has a designated area to cover and a foldable shelving unit on wheels to take books to these areas. Each area has comfy seating. They are in charge of issuing library books to students who visit the areas and returning any books they are given as well as recommending things they have read and enjoyed. They also form a committee to help choose new books for the library to stock when it comes around to ordering new ones. If students don't come to the library, we take the library to them!

 I am fiercely proud of where I work as was my dad and I are both so passionate about books ourselves. Our main passion though is young people - helping to give them the same chances as we were fortunate enough to have ourselves. He always knew you were a decent chap from school and we are thrilled to see someone publicly taking up the fight against (specifically) Gove and his ridiculous educational notions!

"The Penguin"