VIEWS From the pen of... Kate Wiseman

This month, in our regular series on authors working in education, we hear from KATE WISEMAN, author of YA series Gangster School, who offers some advice on getting children enthusiastic about reading.

I’ve worked with kids for many years, and written for them for several. Over that time, one thing that has shrivelled my heart on a regular basis is hearing a child claim to hate reading, because it’s ‘boring.’ I’m sure that you’ve encountered this even more frequently than I have.

I won’t waste much time on speculating about how this

antipathy has come about. Mobile phones, gaming, CGI, parental indifference to the printed word: I’m sure they all play a part. I’m more concerned about what we can do to turn this around. The most fundamental thing we can do to counteract book-

apathy is to be extra-enthusiastic. Kids’ lit can be amazing – memorable, imaginative, challenging, funny, poignant and well- written. When we find a book that we love, we can share it. And we can seek out other adults with similar enthusiasms. I’ve recently started visiting schools to promote my love of books and the response I’ve received has been amazing. One teacher contacted me to say that the buzz lasted for weeks. Now I’m not touting for business, or suggesting that my school

visits are any better than those of other authors. To many kids, the excitement of simply meeting someone whose writing has made it to print (no mean feat, in these days of publishing houses plumping for celebrity writers because they’re a safer bet) is something that can be built upon. Nearly all of my writer friends are champing at the bit for schools to visit, so please bear this in mind. If you haven’t done so already, take a peek at initiatives like the Patron of Reading and the BookPenPals schemes. Both of them match children’s writers with schools around the country. Libraries are wonderful places for generating bookish

enthusiasm. Every school has one, and most towns too, at least for now. I’ve never met a school librarian whose knowledge of kids’ lit wouldn’t have earned them a place in the final of Mastermind, and whose enthusiasm for the subject wouldn’t rival that of Professor Brian Cox on the discovery of a new planet. Librarians are experts and I’m in awe of their ability to put their hand on just the right book to kickstart a child’s reading adventures. If parents don’t currently consider libraries of places of entertainment for their kids, maybe we can use our own enthusiasm to get kids to take the initiative so that once again, the nation will echo with the voices of kids demanding to be taken to the library. Don’t forget bookshops, too. A lot of them are geniuses when it comes to arranging book-based, child- friendly entertainments. Books are portals to countless worlds that just happen to

develop us as writers, imaginers, planners and empathisers, too. We have the most wonderful, varied language ever developed. It gives us so many choices with which to enlarge our thoughts and ideas, and in the process to shape opinions and culture. The written word is the heart and the foundation of television, cinema and social media. Isn’t that something worth enthusing about?

The first two titles in Kate’s debut series Gangster School are now available to buy online and at all good booksellers.

November 2018 British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA)

The BESA/DFE EdTech Roadshow is coming to a

venue near you! This month in his regular column for Education Today, PATRICK HAYES, Director of BESA, is going on the road…

We at BESA are proud to share the news of the brand-new LearnED Roadshow in partnership with the Department for Education (DfE). The roadshow compromises of eight, one-day events focused on exploring the best ways for teachers to incorporate EdTech into their classrooms. The first event will take place on 29 November 2018 at the New York Stadium in Rotherham and is free to attend. The events are designed for school leaders and ICT leads and will

aim to inspire and inform school decision-makers, through peer-to- peer panel discussions and DfE keynote speakers, about the effective use of EdTech. Through this, the aim is to improve teaching and learning outcomes, assessment and support leadership and management across the whole school. The concept, created by BESA in partnership with the DfE, comes

after Education Secretary Damian Hinds’ announcement this summer of the need for industry to partner with government and schools in bringing about a digital “revolution” in classrooms across the country. BESA’s EdTech members are some of the most trusted and high quality EdTech suppliers in the UK. We feel that a collaboration between top quality EdTech suppliers and school leaders would be highly beneficial when incorporating EdTech seamlessly into classrooms. All-too-often we also hear that a lack of training and support is the

major obstacle to tapping into the potential of education technology in the classroom. We want to work to address this issue – with the roadshows being the first in a series of initiatives to do so. It is encouraging that the DfE has chosen to lead the way in doing

so, after almost a decade of making next-to-no comment upon the potential of technology to transform the way education is taught in the classroom. As Caroline Wright, Director General of BESA put it: “I am delighted that the DfE’s plans place teacher training and

support at the heart and soul of their future approach to EdTech. As Damian Hinds says, technology can be used in the classroom in “revolutionary ways” – allowing students to explore a rainforest from their classroom, or programme a robot. There are many examples of Ministries of Education across the world evangelising about the revolutionary potential of education technology, often supplied by UK companies. It’s very welcome that our own Department for Education is now setting out a vision for EdTech that, if realised, could have a ground-breaking impact upon its implementation worldwide.” We would like to invite all Headteachers, ICT Leads and members

of school senior leadership teams in the Rotherham area to attend our first event. We will be announcing speakers – including a big- name speaker from the DfE - panellists and the full agenda in the coming weeks, but tickets will go fast, so be quick! Get your free ticket to the Rotherham event by going to Not from the area? Don’t worry! There will be a further seven shows taking place around the country throughout next the academic year. We look forward to the prospect of seeing you there.

uFor information from BESA contact: u020 7537 4997 13

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