Principal’s Blog, 8th March 2019, World Book Day

This weeks blog is written by our Learning Leader for Literacy and KS3 English, Mr Lane.

Having taught English for a number of years now, I wish I had a pound for every time a parent said, ‘My son always loved reading when he was in primary school, but now he’s just glued to his Xbox and I haven’t seen him read since he wore shorts to school’ or, ‘My daughter always loved reading when she was little, but now it’s all Instagram this, YouTube that or Snapchat the other’.

We hear you and we agree.

That’s why at Hazeley we are really pushing out the boat against this and doing our best to swim against the tide of digital distractions, algorithmic amusements and internet interruptions. As such, we celebrated World Book Day on Thursday 7th of March in a big way this year and bridged that gulf between students’ wonderful and memorable celebrations in primary school and the usually tokenistic experiences of the day in secondary School.

World Book Day is not something that should end once our students pass through secondary school gates. And how have you been able to get them to relive some of the fun of childhood? How else? We dressed up. Cognisant that some of our adolescents might be self-conscious, the staff at Hazeley have proved anything other. We had a huge range of literary characters: including both George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men; most of Hogwarts; two Dolores Umbrages; Lady Macbeth; Gangsta Granny and many more. But let’s not forget Professor Dumbledore, with an accent from the North East! Students were really buzzing when spotting literary characters and some didn’t even recognise Mr Nelson…

Sofia Vecina-Tercero in Year 7 remarked that it ‘was like being in a movie or a book and it was fun guessing who was who’ and Eiden Toscano-Buzenet observed that ‘all the lessons were different to usual as they were related to books, which was a really good idea, and even the teachers were reading in silence in period 5’.

Hazeley celebrated a wonderful, productive and thrilling day in which students’ appetites were whetted as they sampled from a wide range of tasty texts on the menu at our library ‘restaurant’; had the opportunity to purchase at our book sale; had their teachers read out and discuss their favourite books; had reading flashmobs regaling them with snippets of literature; and engaged in book quizzes during form time.

But what was arguably most beneficial and productive of all was the DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) hour. It was truly a calm, soothing and peaceful atmosphere in which over 1500 young people and adults read in silence. Undeniably a dream for most teachers!

So, this year, World Book Day was big. Next year it’ll be even bigger!

But we didn’t just keep it to the day itself. Oh, no, all week, tutor groups have been involved in reading activities: quizzes, podcasts and online reading and writing masterclasses.

You see, at Hazeley, we want to continue to cultivate a culture of reading, through our fortnightly Accelerated Reader lessons, the first ten minutes of reading in English lessons and thrice yearly DEAR sessions. For us, even though that day sparked off a lot of enthusiasm, celebrating reading is not just about celebrating it once a year.

I really do think the more we do this, the far fewer comments we’ll be hearing about Playstations before prose, Nintendos before novels. Slowly but surely, we really might just get there. I may never get those pounds… but that’s okay.