AFTER a fun summer holiday the last thing some youngsters might want to hear on their first day of school is ‘this term’s theme is books, books, books!’
But children at Medina Primary in Cosham can’t wait to get stuck into reading after being mobbed in assembly by teachers dressed as characters from their assigned novels.
Finlay Edwards, nine, who is in year five – which has been set Roald Dahl books – was delighted to see his class teacher’s transformation into one of The Witches, from the book by Roald Dahl.
Finlay said: ‘It was an amazing surprise that was unexpected for all of us.
‘All the teachers were really funny in their costumes – we couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the books we will be reading this term.
‘I’ve read The Twits (also by Roald Dahl) and it’s one of my favourite books because it is so funny and well written.
‘It’s important to find a book you enjoy as it makes you want to read even more. My school makes reading fun.’
Amber-Lily Garrett, six, described the build-up to the entrance of teachers dressed as farm animals, fortune tellers, pirates, Little Red Riding Hood, Tinkerbell and many more.
She said: ‘Our headteacher was giving assembly and suddenly there was a lot of noise coming from the corridor.
‘He looked annoyed and said teachers were messing about with the photocopier, but the noise got louder and he went out to tell them off. Suddenly they all came in, dressed as different characters, and they told us about the books and read from them. It was amazing, I loved the experience.’
Staff at Medina know the importance of making reading fun. Last year, they set out a new approach by setting pupils entire books instead of passages, and including the texts in other activities like trips to the theatre.
A year later, the school is celebrating excellent Key Stage Two results for year six pupils – despite 21 out of 28 pupils in that group being boys, who perform worse than girls in exams nationally. All the pupils achieved their expected pass rates for English and 50 per cent exceeded them.
And the number of pupils who scored one level higher than the government-set benchmark more than doubled from 22 per cent in 2010 to 48 per cent this year.
Headteacher Howard Payne, sporting red lipstick on his cheek courtesy of the outlaw Kissing Kate Barlow (aka teaching assistant Pauline Weeks), said: ‘We wanted to bring the curriculum to life for the kids. Instead of presenting them with the topic “books, books, books” we set the scene with a bang.’