When Boundary Primary asked if I would be their ‘Patron of Reading‘ for the academic year 2016 – 2017, I jumped at the chance. I felt honoured that the staff thought I could impact in a positive way on the children’s reading over the course of the year. My author visits across the North West will still continue, but I will take on a specific role at Boundary. I’m relishing the fantastic opportunity.

I have visited the school on numerous occasions and I’ve already been to share ‘More Impossible Tales’ with the Key Stage 2 pupils. The photographs from the visit feature on the school website.

We have lots of exciting plans in the pipeline and I’ll post updates about my visits on this page.

 

October

Parents and carers were invited into school for a coffee morning. After coffee and cake, I introduced myself and spoke about my role in school and what it would involve. I also offered some ideas about how to engage the children in home reading and highlighted the importance of quality reading time at home. Hopefully some of the ideas will prove useful. It was lovely to meet some of the parents and carers.

December

I spent two mornings sharing stories in assembly and writing with Year 5. The theme for the half term was ‘Space’ so I created a fictional tale about an alien encounter I had in 1986 whilst out on my paper round! The KS2 pupils listened so well during the storytelling assembly. I then spent the rest of the morning creating alien descriptions with 5C. The following day, I returned to share the alien story with the fantastic KS1 pupils and to write with 5A. It was great to spend time in school and I must say, the pupils were out of this world!

February

It was lovely to join Year 4 on the first day of the new half term for a morning of storytelling and writing. The plan was for the pupils to rewrite one of my Tales. After much thought, we decided on ‘Fish Out Of Water’, so I put on the storytelling waistcoat to perform the story for the pupils. The children listened ever so well and then returned to class for some writing action. The first part of the morning was spent with 4S. We pulled apart my opener and the children planned and wrote their own version. Their ideas were ace! After break, I joined 4J and we repeated the session. I had a great time writing with both of the Year 4 classes and I can’t wait to take a look at their writing next time I visit.

March

As it had been a while since my last visit, I was especially excited about leading the Key Stage 2 assembly. The children got to a ‘world exclusive’ as I shared the blurb for my next book, Eric Appleby: Danger Zone. I was really pleased to see lots of hands raised when I asked if any of the children would like to read the book when it’s launched later this year. I then put on the storytelling waistcoat to share one of the first Impossible Tales I wrote, ‘Junk From The Trunk’. It’s one of my favourites to perform and the children listened beautifully as we tangled with a particularly nasty pirate and even ended up walking the plank! It was an absolute pleasure to lead the assembly and promote reading for pleasure.

April

It was lovely to return after the Easter break. The afternoon started with a Q&A session in Year 5. The pupils are studying different authors and illustrators, so I was honoured to be invited in to answer lots of questions about life as a writer. I look forward to seeing the children’s writing when they have written up their notes.

After setting up in the hall, I led an assembly with the Key Stage 2 pupils. I raided my bookshelf and gathered together a collection of children’s books that I have recently read. My aim was to promote reading for pleasure and I loved sharing books by Abi Elphinstone, Maz Evans, Peter Bunzl and M.G. Leonard to name but a few. To finish the session, I put on my storytelling waistcoat to share one of my stories from More Impossible Tales. It features a crime-fighting wig and it was only the second time I’ve ever performed it. The pupils seemed to enjoy it and that’s the main thing. To cap off a top day, I heard later that some of the pupils went straight to their local library to loan books, both mine and those of other authors I’d mentioned. Magic!

May

It was fab to lead a whole school assembly. To start the session, I shared some more of my favourite books with the children. I had a real variety of books including short stories by Paul Jennings, The Girl of Ink and Stars and The Twits to name but a few. I love sharing some of my favourite reads with the kids. Hopefully they will pop into the library again and pick up some books themselves. I couldn’t visit without sharing one of my own Tales, so I put on the storytelling waistcoat and shared a story about a sea creature that visits a seaside town. The kids were ace and I had a spectacular time.

During May, I worked with both Year 6 classes. We created nasty characters and looked at ‘showing not telling’. We tried to describe the character through his appearance and his actions, plus the reaction of the other children in the story. The pupils worked really well and I was fortunate enough to pop back later in the week to read some of their edited work. It blew my socks off!

June

The final writing sessions of the year were with Year 3. The topic theme for the half term was ‘Bigger Is Better’ so I devised a brand new short story based around a kid who discovers a bracelet that can make him grow into a giant! I put in the waistcoat to share the story and then worked on alternative ways of opening the story with both of the Year 3 classes. The children generated lots of amazing ideas and it was a joy to return a couple of weeks later to hear extracts from the children’s writing. They had written their own versions of my story over the two weeks and I was super impressed!

July

My time as Patron of Reading for Boundary finished with a ‘goodbye assembly’ which involved all of the children. I reflected about the fantastic year, shared one last story and ended by encouraging the children to read after I had moved on. It was a lovely, if a little emotional, to see the children one last time.

My year as Patron of Reading at Boundary Primary was magical. I had the best time and it was topped off when I received a lovely testimonial from Mrs Moyes, the deputy headteacher. It shows the influence a PoR can have and I’m proud to have been involved at Boundary.

As a school, reading was a big focus for improvement for us. We wanted to not just improve our reading attainment, but also the develop the reading culture in school. Dan was definitely the man for this!!! At the start of the year, Dan became our Author in Residence. Through dedicated time spent with our KS2 children, Dan retold his fantastic stories, shared his top writing tips, delivered informative workshops, performed assemblies and recommended good books for us to read.

Our children’s writing and reading results have improved this year and the change in the reading culture is immense! Our children are motivated to read, with some even cheering when they are told they are going library – where many ask the librarian to order in Dan’s books! Dan even got a little mention in our ‘Good’ OFSTED report!

Feedback after a writing session in Year6:
‘I really enjoy it when Dan comes to work with us’, said Harry 6H. ‘Dan really paints a picture of his characters through his use of showing not telling’.

Here are some quotes from our Year 3 children:
‘I really enjoyed the part of the story where Dan saved the cat from the tree using his super power.’ Tyler 3C

I liked Dan’s use of outstanding adjectives. I’m going to try and use some of them in my writing.’ Kerry-May 3C

Dan, Patron of Reading, Author in Residence – we cannot thank you enough for all the work you have put in at Boundary Primary. Nothing has been too much trouble over the year and you have gone above and beyond to motivate and inspire our children to read and write. From all the children and staff at Boundary – thank you and we look forward to more visits in the future!