Back in 2014, Titus Salt School in Shipley, Yorkshire, asked me to be their Patron of Reading for 2014-15. The school, which has a fantastic library run by the equally fantastic Chrissie Hunter, puts a strong emphasis on reading and literacy across all departments, and I knew as soon as I set foot through the door that I was going to enjoy working with them very much indeed.
It was a busy year. I undertook several visits, including this one where I helped some students film podcasts about current GCSE questions. In February I helped launch a literacy project where a group of students wrote stories based on the school's core values (more on that in a moment!) and on World Book Day I spent two days at the school and became Empress Pass of Poetopia (which meant I got to order lots of Year 7s around - sometimes I really love my job!). You can read more about those two visits here.
Then, in May, I accompanied the Literacy project group – 21 Year 7, 8, 9 and 10 students along with teachers Mr Breen, Mrs Wilson, Miss Milnes – to Malham for a weekend, where the students would be making films out of the stories created during my visit in February.
On the Saturday, everyone was up early. My group went to Janet’s Foss first, to film some scenes for a story about two sisters who become separated and must find each other again, battling against insurmountable odds. The path to the waterfall can get quite busy with walkers, but we got there early and had the place almost to ourselves. Once the group had all the scenes they needed in the bag, we returned to the Bunk Barn to get ready for the next filming session up at Malham Cove, which required some preparation - face paints, a wizard's cape and a blue wig! It was a brilliant weekend and the students created some outstanding work. Again, a real I-love-my-job moment!
My final visit for the school year gave me another chance to dress up, this time as the Storyteller from Grimmtasia, helping Year 7 create fairy tales worlds and characters.
I also put together a half-termly newsletter called PassWords where I talked about books and writing, shared news on literacy and reading-related projects the school was running, and featured other authors and students' own writing.
And now, I get to do it all again, as Titus Salt have asked me to be their Patron of Reading for a second year. Hooray! I'm really looking forward to it, and can't wait to find out what projects I'll be taking part in this time. Here's to the brilliant staff and students at Titus Salt, and another great year of reading!