They say that a picture tells a thousand words, but I believe that a good book creates a new world where imaginations soar and people, young and old, can get lost in literature. All this time, students are developing key literacy skills that, unbeknownst to most, will help them to succeed, not only in assessments and exams, but also with future aspirations and careers. This is something very little will achieve through Fortnite.
Since joining the academy in July, I have been staggered with the level of engagement, access and provision that we offer to students through the DEAR (drop everything and read) initiative. Each day, students and staff stop what they are doing and sit down for 20 minutes to enjoy a good book: this is firmly establishing a culture of reading in the school, which students will benefit from for years to come. What’s more, students are used to and enjoy the addition of daily reading to their academic diet.
Ellie H., Year 8, says: “In lessons, I like DEAR because it helps me develop my reading skills and gives me a wider vocabulary. I can already see this in my writing. The more you read, the more words you pick up, the more you can use in your written work.” It is not just students who feel the buzz, though. Mr. Brothers from humanities says: “Having twenty minutes of DEAR everyday has hugely improved our school. So many students have become engaged in their reading that you can hear a pin drop around the building and it’s a struggle to get them to put their books away.”
Reading for pleasure equals success in terms of GCSE examinations. If a student reads for 1 minute each day, over the course of secondary school, they will have only read 8,000 words. Compare that to a student that reads for at least 20 minutes per day: a vocabulary of over 1,800,000 words (Nagy & Herman, 1987). This culture is growing strong at Montsaye: in the coming months, years or even decades, the young people of our community will benefit from this.