Tag Archives: school

Questions for a Children’s Author

I visited St Paul’s CofE Primary School in Gloucester last week and some of the children still had questions to ask when our time was up. I asked their teacher Mrs Bevan, to send me an email with the questions I hadn’t answered, and promised to make a video for her and her class 5.

Having made the video, I though I might share it on my website too!

I mention that Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, is my favourite book. I made a video explaining why. You can see it here:

These are the questions that Year 5 asked

Lesley-Joyce:

  • How long does it take you to write your books?
  • Did you make the character Harri like drawing because you like drawing too?
  • Is it possible for you to give our school a couple of your books to put in our library? (her question – honest!?) Vikki asked this too!

Ethan:

  • How many books do you sell in a year?
  • Is it hard to write books?

Bea:

  • Who is your favourite character out of all of the books you’ve written? (Finnley asked this too)
  • What’s your most recent book?

Karl:

  • Where do you get your ideas from for your books and characters?

Gabko:

  • What is your favourite book that you haven’t written?

Vikki, Jennifer, Mario also asked the same questions as the ones above!

 

Guiness Book of Records Reading Scam

michael morpurgo world reading recordOn tuesday, “At 27 schools cross the capital, 2,735 children set a record by taking part in the biggest co-ordinated reading lesson, all enjoying Born to Run by Morpurgo at exactly the same time.”

But take a look at the picture of one of the students featured in the Evening Standard Movie in this article, and you will see that nothing of the sort was going on at all. The children weren’t reading books, they were shuffling a few photocopied pages around.

This perfectly explains the appalling reading standards ushered in by the National curriculum, and the Literacy Strategy in particular. Children don’t read books any more – they analyse texts.

There is no time or need to read books in school. Education is arranged for the sake of accountants, who need boxes to be ticked so they can analyse progress and massage figures more easily. Reading books doesn’t fit into that structure. Books take too long to read and – heaven forbid! – the children might make up their own minds about the message and meaning in the book. There may not be an appropriate box for them to tick!

The sooner the Literacy strategy is abandoned, the sooner British children can get back to the very difficult job of learning to read – that requires real books with a beginning a middle and an end, with a great story filled with life’s funny, sad and awkward truths.

Wilcombe, Sampford Peverill and Hemyock – federated Schools – Devon

Last week I visited three schools in and around Tiverton in Devon. What was interesting about them was that they had come together as a Federation.

Wilcombe, in Tiverton, was the lead school, looking for partners to join them. As I understand it, a speed-dating event was organised and Sampford Peverill and Hemyock liked the idea and they decided to get hitched.

They are some thirteen miles apart, but much further apart in their catchment areas. Wilcombe is a town school in the middle of a large estate, Sampford Peverill is a victorian, village church school with masses of portacabin classsrooms in the yard and Hemyock is a largish, eighties-ish village school.

They share an Executive Head, who does all the business and finds the money, while his centralised office team buy in bulk and spread costs of payroll and administration.

Each school then has a Head of Learning, whose role is like head teachers of old – the education and pastoral care of the children, without the constant nagging and pressure from the education authorities above them that most heads have to put up with today.

The schools are all linked up with videoconference equipment. Everyone seems really enthusiastic about the situation. In fact, I’d say there is a real buzz in these three school. There is a palpable feeling of care and a new found passion for teaching rather than meeting targets.

Teaching staff and expertise can be shared across the three schools allowing teachers to expand their specialities. Everyone said how great it was to have others to share knowledge and experience with.

These schools are setting a brilliant example to others. As far as education cuts are concerned, they’ve done it already and are way ahead of the pack.

I know other schools are fearful of the future and really quite scared of the idea of federation, but from my experience last week, I’d say go for it. This has to be the future of primary schools in this country as support is pulled away from above.

Small schools must be finding it harder and harder to keep up. With federation, they could cut costs, broaden their children’s (and teachers) horizons and broaden what they can offer too.

Thanks for a great couple of days and best of luck with the future of this exciting project.