picture books would appear throughout every year group. I am passionate about the power they have, and we now have KS2 children who no longer turn their noses up at a picture book but look for the messages within them. This has been one of the positives from its implementation; reluctant readers are becoming readers and not just readers, but curious readers. There have been specific books which started

the process: ‘The Arrival’ by Shaun Tan is a masterpiece and one which lends itself to so many aspects of the curriculum in upper key stage 2. Both the Year 5/6 teacher and I know the book very well so it was useful to see how we could link areas of the curriculum to it. Beegu is another, which we have placed in Year 1. As the year has progressed more and more books have filtered into the curriculum, for instance, Antje Damm’s ‘The Visitor’ and ‘Julian is a Mermaid’ by Jessica Love which have been used to inspire discussions linked to PSHE.

What other initiatives are you using to help boost reading for pleasure in the school? I think as the headteacher you need to be the model reader. If you don’t read, or be seen to be reading, it’s difficult to expect the same from the other staff and the children. I ran a KS1 picture book club in the autumn term; it was an after- school club in which children and their parents could come along. We read a picture book together and then produced artwork inspired by the illustrations. I’m hoping to repeat this next year. From Reception to Year 6, the reading of a ‘class book’ has now become a priority within the school day. In fact, teachers are encouraged to read three or four times per day if they so wish.

Inspired by Simon Smith (Principal at East

Whitby Academy), I now lead a ‘picture book worship’ every Friday. It’s an opportunity to share those powerful messages within picture books and it has impacted greatly on the children’s attitude towards them. His kind words of encouragement and knowledgeable views on reading have certainly sharpened my actions in the last year or so and the school has been transformed into one which now celebrates books. Since joining Twitter last summer, I have been introduced to so many educators who celebrate reading; it’s incredibly powerful CPD. Thanks to the power of Twitter, we are delighted to be hosting Heather Wright’s Reading Rocks Popup event in July, having been recognised as a school which celebrates reading.

What do the children think of the curriculum? The feedback has been extremely positive from the children and perhaps even more so when we have linked an experience with the book. One class, whilst reading Katherine Rundell’s ‘Wolf Wilder’ ventured to Wild Woodcraft to learn techniques of woodland survival. Children are now making links between books and recognise when specific values have been shared within the pages of different texts. They are now more likely to want to come and read the book that has just been read, or purchase the book themselves.

How have the school staff responded? I think from the very beginning the team could see what the benefits would be to such a curriculum being implemented and have been very positive. The feeling of freedom for a teacher

is essential, and although the reading-inspired curriculum provides a strong skeleton, there are plentiful opportunities to develop ideas further or find texts which supplement the core text. We are taking on board staff views currently as to how things may be tweaked ready for next year, and as KS2 classes are mixed-year groups we are creating a ‘Cycle 2’, including new texts, which has already got me chomping at the bit.

What about the wider school community - parents and carers? Have they embraced the curriculum? Again, feedback has been positive. It’s important that parents and carers see the people teaching their child as happy and enthusiast for the important role they have; I think they see that through what we are teaching. Parents new to the school have also expressed how they were delighted to see books play such an important role in the school.

What would you say to other schools looking to implement a similar curriculum? Although the reading-inspired curriculum is still relatively new to us, we can see the fruits of growth and are confident it will be very successful moving forward. It won’t impact on data this year significantly, but we fully expect it to in the years to come. However, more importantly, we will continue to adapt and improve it to ensure children have a wide range of experiences and have every opportunity to become readers for pleasure. All schools are different and a curriculum can be developed in so many different ways. Whatever you choose it has to work for your children.

June 2019 17

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