View from the classroom

School is a small school, set on two sites, with approximately 135 children; we are based in northern Lincolnshire. The children come to us from a number of local villages. We have a relatively high proportion of children with SEND and pupil premium numbers are broadly in line with the national average. I have been headteacher here for almost three years, during which time we have seen significant change to many aspects of the school both physically and through our systems and processes. We are a school on an upward trajectory with the changes made beginning to be embedded and impact will continue to be seen in the coming years. I am lucky to be supported by an enthusiastic team including a governing body who have the patience and understanding needed to ensure the vision for school improvement impacts over time.


his month, in our ever-popular View from the classroom feature, we speak to Karl

Duke, Headteacher at Blyton cum Laughton CE Primary School in Lincolnshire, who explains how the school’s “curriculum inspired by books” ensures that children have a wide range of experiences and every opportunity to become readers for pleasure.

Tell us about your school Blyton cum Laughton Church of England Primary

Where did the idea of a "curriculum inspired by books" come from? I started life as an illustrator over twenty years ago and so have always enjoyed exploring the visual qualities of picture books. Reading has always been a passion too. As a teacher I enjoyed using books and film as a stimulus for learning. Then, having worked as a literacy consultant for a number of years, I realised that, when planning creatively with teachers, the use of a picture book, or novel really did engage teachers. When the teacher is engaged and excited about learning then there is every opportunity that the child will be too. We sat down as an SLT just over a year ago

and I shared the idea of developing a curriculum based on books: a reading-inspired curriculum. We all agreed that we needed to ensure books and reading were the focal point of our curriculum, not to compete against IT in anyway, but to ensure we maximised each child’s joyful experience when exploring other lives and worlds through fiction and non-fiction. The team were very encouraging and supportive and so, over the next few weeks, we mapped out each year group for the forthcoming year. With the national curriculum threaded through, we explored the

16 June 2019

possible texts which would take us on the journey.

How did you go about implementing the curriculum? For us, certainly for this first year, it has been about considering the needs of staff, children and parents in order to implement a successful curriculum. Teachers were given the opportunity to input in

the early stages and we made sure they had a copy of each book selected to enable them to read at their own leisure well in advance of each term starting. We are not a school that can afford a copy per child, but we made sure that the curriculum was published on the website so that parents, if they chose, could obtain a copy. We held a curriculum workshop for parents so that we could share our vision for this exciting change. Teachers have the freedom to decide how their classroom supports the focus text, so for those who wish to create an immersive classroom or a simpler version, the choice is there.

Are there particular types of books you have found it helpful to focus on? Certainly to start the process it is helpful to have a few favourites (and an office full of books) to call upon. We wanted a mix of new and classic novels for children with an increasing challenge, although we were very keen to ensure that

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