What is Patron of Reading?
A Patron of Reading is a school's special children's author, poet, storyteller or illustrator. The school and their patron develop a relationship over a period of time. Everything the patron does is related to helping encourage and develop a reading for pleasure culture in the school: blogs, book recommendations, discussions, plays, book quizzes, poetry bashes, parent sessions, book trailers and school visits. The possibilities are virtually endless. Created by head teacher Tim Redgrave, the idea has now spread to over 200 schools across the British Isles (as well as to schools as far away as New Zealand and the USA!).
What a Patron of Reading might do?
Here are a few of the things the first Patron of Reading, Helena Pielichaty, did in her role as patron here at Ysgol Esgob Morgan:
- Visited the school several times a year.
- Initiated the Summer Reading Challenge trophy.
- Sent a termly newsletter.
- Created a designated space on her website for staff, pupils and parents. This has allowed pupils and staff to maintain communications with Helena.
- Donated copies of her new books to the school library.
- Worked with a small group of Year Five pupils who lacked enthusiasm for reading. She consulted them about a short play she’d written and asked for feedback. Afterwards the boys were so keen they wanted to produce the play and held auditions for classmates.
- Visited the local public library to meet the children’s librarian there, Kara Orford, and sat in on a Chatterbooks session.
- Donated signed copies of books to the library from other authors such as Allan Ahlberg.
- Shared new ideas regarding reading, books and libraries, with the staff. For example, Rooted in Reading’s Reading Passports, the National Literacy Trust’s Premier League Reading Stars, the Reader Organisation and National Libraries Day.
- Participated in a family quiz which was all about her books. A fun way of familiarising everyone with her material!
- Added a guest comment to the school’s English policy
- Tweeted and blogged about her visits and the school to which pupils and staff responded.
- Recommended books about specific curriculum topics.
- Read books recommended to her by the staff and pupils.
What impact has this initiative had?
Tim Redgrave and staff reported it has.....
- Sparked extra interest in reading generally throughout the school
- Provided teachers with an added dimension when encouraging reading for pleasure
- Given pupils an extra incentive to join in with schemes such as the Summer Reading Challenge. Between 2014-2019 the school had 100% participation- the first school to do so in England and Wales, according to the Reading Agency.
- Inspired parents and made them feel included, e.g by submitting comments on Helena’s blog and writing poetry with their children at home
- Boosted the quality of creative writing- even though Helena’s remit doesn’t include creative writing, the writing inspired after her first visit was described as 'phenomenal'
- Necessitated extending the school library as borrowing had increased well beyond expectation.