The new head of a Harrogate school is backing ‘real books’ over iPads to inspire a passion for reading in youngsters.
Mrs Nicola Matthews, who became headteacher at the start of the new term at Brackenfield School, the town’s only standalone prep school, said, while not opposed to electronic devices, they weren’t always useful in encouraging a love of reading.
She said: “We use mainly real books in school, although the children can access many book scripts on the iPads.
“The electronic readers take away the crucial “feel” of the book and the pleasure in the pictures that can be shared with others.
“We need to inspire the children to read for pleasure, whatever their chosen format.
“If children enjoy reading, then they are more likely to read. When children read, they learn.”
A recent visit by The Society of Authors, which represents more than 10,000 writers, illustrators and literary translators, saw this small school receive an award for its approach to books with its pupils who are aged between two and 11.
During the visit, the SOA representative ran workshops and talks for the pupils in the school which was judged “Outstanding – All Areas’ by Ofsted in 2016.
Having joined Brackenfield from being head at a prep school in Nottinghamshire, after teaching in Oxford schools, Mrs Matthews said it was important youngsters embraced ‘extreme reading’ which involves reading real books for longer periods of time in different situations and unusual locations.
She said: “The school will be following up the award by a new reading challenge for all pupils this term with the opportunity to celebrate and exhibit photos of “extreme reading”.
“We are also challenging all the staff to read for pleasure and to share their favourite books with the school.
"Storytelling is a key way to engage with children and with life. Unless a child has heard or read a phrase, then they cannot speak it, never mind write it.
"Playing with words is a huge skill that sets children up to speak and write articulately."
Mrs Matthews, who said she set herself the challenge of learning all of the names of all the pupils in the school which she described as “like one big family” in her first week, said it was only right pupils had access to the digital world, too.
She said: “Some of the older pupils tend to use electronic readers at home. We need to inspire the children to read for pleasure, whatever their chosen format.
"Having fun is certainly an important part of school life, along with developing a lifelong love of learning. As the only standalone prep school in Harrogate, all the pupils who leave at the end of year 6 are highly prized by the Senior schools they move on to.
"Indeed, a large proportion of pupils achieve scholarships to their next schools."
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