Patron of Reading: aka, I must have grown up somewhere along the way

I just made the first visit to a brand new school, Cambourne Village College, just outside Cambridge. I accepted their offer to become ‘Patron of Reading’ for this academic year, a title which makes me think I must have become a grown-up somewhere along my journey. Not that I noticed.

I was delighted to receive this invitation because Cambourne is a very rare thing – a brand new school. It’s expanded out of Comberton Village College: Cambridge parents have obviously been busy and there is a bit of a population explosion going on.

So here’s the front of the new building.

It’s really beautiful, and inside are some great new teaching facilities, a sports hall, IT rooms etc etc and most importantly of all, a brand new library. It was Alison Tarrant, the librarian at the school, who had the idea to appoint a Patron of Reading, and she got in touch last summer to ask if I’d take on the role, the purpose of which is to champion reading through the school. Cambourne have a great plan – get this first year of students really into their reading and hopefully that will set the tone in future years. Their Head of School is former English teacher, and that helps a lot I think, but all the staff seem to be right behind this great initiative.

The idea is that I will have contact with this very first intake (150 year 7s) throughout their first year at the school. We’ll meet, either for real or virtually in some way, once per half term from now till the summer before they head up to year 8. Todays, by way of introduction, I gave a talk to the whole year group in their shiny new hall, with possibly the largest projection screen I’ve ever seen :-0

The students were wonderful, had some great questions. I signed a load of books and really enjoyed our first session together, so thanks to Cambourne for the welcome.

And since this was reported today, it feels like my visit could not have come at a more appopriate time. Not that there was any evidence of children being embarrassed to be seen with a book here! The enthusiasm for reading was plain to see – the challenge is to keep children reading as the move up through the school system. I think Cambourne are well on the way to achieving that.

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