Earlier this year our Educational Resource Manager, Mrs Chávez, applied to the Siobhan Dowd Trust for some money as part of their monthly £1000 giveaway. Each month this year the Trust is giving the opportunity for schools to go to a local bookshop and select books. One of the aims of their project is to ‘encourage the art of browsing and for young people to feel ownership about the books chosen for the school.’ (You can find out more about the giveaway on the Trust’s website.)
In her application, Mrs Chávez wrote about how a combination of a shift in emphasis from literacy to exams at 16-19, varying individual timetables and low government funding have resulted in poor reading for pleasure resources in the Library and difficulties in organising and attracting interest in literacy/reading events. She concluded by saying, “With the exception of World Book Night, however, take up and interest in these [reading for pleasure] events has been low and I believe that is largely to do with our fiction collection. It is relatively small, has been predominantly built up around texts studied at A Level and hasn’t been updated in a long time. It really isn’t accessible to the majority of our students. I strongly feel that if our students could be involved with developing this collection then they would be more likely to interact with it, would feel ownership and would encourage others to use it. I realise that we are probably not your typical school applicant but I feel our students are at a disadvantage because of the lack of targeted reader development available at this level and the lack of government funding to sixth forms in order to allow me to have the resources to foster a love of reading.”
The following month Mrs Chávez was contacted by the Trust to say that her application had been successful and the judges had awarded the College £250 for our students to select reading for pleasure books! In order to encourage ownership and borrowing Mrs Chávez was keen for Year 12 students to be involved so that they could still reap the benefits when they returned in September for their second year. Therefore, the actual shopping trip was held off until this month after the year group had returned from study leave.
On Thursday 8th June, Mrs Chávez and Head of Year 12, Mrs Iwanczyk, took six Year 12 students to Jarrolds in Norwich to choose the books. The participating students were Ben Collier, Rebecca Gibson, Carla Hill, Chloe Kemp, Finley Spetch and Gemma Wynton. We were met by Lois Hopkins who works in Jarrolds’ book department and then the students had free reign over choosing £250’s worth of reading for pleasure books. Both Mrs Chávez and Mrs Iwanczyk were impressed with the choices. “Prior to the visit I had asked Year 12 for any recommendations or requests in order to extend the title selection as broadly as possible and received a small number back. I was worried that on our visit the group would find the recommended titles and then struggle to choose more faced with so much choice. They were not fazed in the slightest, however, and quickly put together an excellent selection of thirty young adult/adult fiction titles that will appeal to a range of tastes.” (Mrs Chávez)