Heads give £15,000 for youth books joy
Buy this photo » Swindon Deputy Mayor Teresa Page with students from schools taking part.
ALMOST £15,000 has been stumped up by an educational alliance to put together a literacy bonanza for school children across Swindon.
The sixth annual Swindon Youth Festival of Literature was launched by the 11 participating secondary schools in the borough at Swindon Central Library yesterday morning.
The festival, which will take place in the schools, library and Wyvern Theatre between November 11 and 15, was made possible by the Swindon Association of Secondary Headteachers (SASH).
The 11 heads of each participating school chipped in £1,300 each, bringing the overall cost of the festival to £14,300.
Eight thousand pupils from 49 schools, including almost 40 primaries, will have the chance to work with authors, poets, illustrators and storytellers for readings, performances and workshops.
“It’s a sign that the schools in town can work together on something they see as so important as children reading,” said Scott Sissons, headteacher at The Dorcan Academy.
“I don’t know anywhere else in the country that does something like this. Some schools in other areas have been asking how we do it.
“This does help boost exam results too. It supports literacy, and if you cannot read very well you’re going to have problems answering questions.”
For the first time, secondary schools will host transition events for feeder primary school children in years five and six.
The headline event of the festival will take place on its final day, November 15, when every school involved will pack into the Wyvern for a clue-laden adventure with Irish screenwriter and children’s author Derek Landy.
Festival co-ordinator Fiona Hardcastle said: “We are doing this to get our students reading. Children play it safe and choose authors that they know of.
“We want them to read authors they are not familiar with and this festival will help to broaden their interests.”
Charlotte Webb, 14, a year 10 pupil at the Dorcan Academy, said: “I like reading. This festival is going to be able to expand on all the things I’ve already read and give me some new authors.
“Seeing the people who write books will hopefully encourage us to read more.
“When you read books you learn more words, so it helps make you sound smart.”
For more information on the festival, visit www.swindonyfl.co.uk.
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