PD Sessions (Personal Development)

Over the past few weeks Tutors have been delivering some PD (Personal Development) sessions that I created about Reading (DEAR) and Independent Learning (Information Literacy).

As part of the first Reading session students were asked to create an A4 landscape poster about the MRC, e.g. how to use it and what you can find there.They could then vote for their favourite.

I have received lots of wonderful examples that I have shared via the Academy screens, but here are some of the ones I liked best!

mrc poster winners (1) mrc poster winners (2) mrc poster winners (3) mrc poster winners (4) mrc poster winners (5) mrc poster winners (6) mrc poster winners (7) mrc poster winners (8) mrc poster winners (9)

What is your attitude to reading?

If you are in Year 7, you may have noticed something strange going on during your MRC lessons, and no I’m not talking about my dancing!

Some Year 7 students have disappeared…… only to be found with myself or Mrs Bothamley quietly chatting………

You may be wondering “What’s that all about?”

Well I can reveal all…..

As part of our mission to help you all become better readers we are attempting to meet with each of you over the next term, or so. This may take a little bit of time as there is rather a lot of you! (350+)

The chat, I hope, isn’t too scary, and so far I’ve had lots of interesting conversations with many of you.

Here are two things I can share with you that

come up repeatedly.

1. To improve your reading (making it easier) doesn’t take 5 hours or more each day as many of you think! But only 10-15 minutes. So grab your book before you go to bed and read a chapter or two. That’s it. Simples.

Do this everyday, or most days, and abracadabra over a month or so you should see/feel a difference. Keep it up and over many months and you’ll notice a huge difference. Promise!



2. If you can’t find something “good” to read, then do not fear! It can be a bit difficult walking into the MRC and being surrounded by all those books – where to start? If only there was an expert around to help….. Oh yeah! there is!


All you have to do is be a little bit brave and ask one of us. Mrs Bothamley and I are especially keen to suggest books we think you might like. Plus we won’t get upset if you reject some of the books we show you. No really – come and give it a try. We won’t bite! (Well it hasn’t happened yet!)


So if you haven’t had a chat yet, be patient, and we’ll get to you soon!




So I have been experimenting with Pinterest to create online, visual Reading Lists.


What do I mean by this? Well I have been creating Pinboards using Pinterest to collect images of book covers and grouping them into themes. I have had several requests from Science to create a reading list to support different curriculum topics, and this seems to be working quite well, although some of the topics have been challenging (if anyone knows of any fiction books which covers fizzy sports drinks – please let me know!). Students have picked a book related to their academic study and have gone onto write a review of their chosen book as a homework activity.

The benefits over a traditional list are:- no reprographic costs, new titles can easily be added, and they are easily accessible by students and staff.

These reading lists can be embedded in our VLE alongside the assignment and I have put a link to all the boards on our Oliver Homepage.

I plan to promote with other subject areas, as this is just one other way the MRC can encourage and support Literacy Across the curriculum and the Reading for Pleasure Agenda!

Click HERE to view my Reading List Boards!

Book Fair

Book fair – Coming this week

The annual Book Fair will be in school in the atrium on Wednesday for a week. So save up your pocket money and come and have a browse!

It’s your chance to choose what you want to own to read.

Political Freedoms

I did something a little different over half term. I travelled down and marched through the streets of London to the Houses of Parliament; shouting chants; waving placards; handing out leaflets to passerbys; all whilst wearing one of the matching t-shirts. ( Over my two wooly jumpers!).

We caused a bit of a stir with people stopping and staring; taking photos; one gent even wrote a poem to support us!

Once at the Houses of Parliament I went inside; passed through security; and walked straight to the central lobby area where I had arranged to meet – or lobby my local MP, Stewart Jackson for Peterborough.


This area is quite impressive; steeped in history, with four stained glass windows, high up, depicting the four patron saints of the United Kingdom; and with access to the House of Lords on one side and the House of Commons on the other. I gave my name at reception, and waited….

Suddenly four police arrived and moved everyone to the sides. A minute or two passed and then the policeman standing next to me shouted “hats off strangers”. It was the start of the Speaker’s procession.

(Before every sitting of the House, the Speaker’s procession leaves the Speaker’s House inside the Palace of Westminster and heads for the Commons chamber.
The Serjeant at Arms, carrying the Mace, and a doorkeeper walk ahead of the Speaker. Some members of the Speaker’s staff – his chaplain, secretary and a trainbearer – follow behind. As the procession reaches the central lobby of the Houses of Parliament, one of the policemen on duty shouts: “Hats Off Strangers!” Then, policemen in helmets and any members of the public wearing hats are required to remove their headgear as the procession passes.)


Once they had passed through many people jostled to queue to go to the public gallery. Those wearing t-shirts that matched my own were marvelling at our lucky timing when over the tannoy I heard “Could Sarah Masters please come to reception”. This was it, my big moment had arrived. All my preparation, reading; and research meant I was ready. However it was a bit disappointing as my MP had double booked me. Instead I spent 30-40 minutes talking with his assistant ( Michael Horwood) about why over 120 librarians; teachers; students and authors had come to London. (Some of those attending included Mary Hoffman (Book Maven Blog ,Philip Ardargh (see Facebook pages), Sarah McIntyre (Jabberwoks Blog), Chris Priestley, Dave Cryer, Candy Gourlay, and Francesca Simon.)

So what was it all about?

Well you, as students, and indeed staff, are lucky at the TDA as you have both a school library and a professional librarian (that’s me folks!). Not every student is so lucky with many schools not having either; with no access to resources or professional expertise they are at a disadvantage.

It may surprise you to know that whilst libraries are statutory (legally compulsory) in prisons, they are not statutory in schools. Perhaps if this was the other way around there would be fewer people in prison! Our chant we called out as we marched along was “Kids are extraordinary, make school libraries statutory” (devised by some of the students who marched with us).

Can you spot me?

The second reason we were lobbying for might surprise some of your teachers, as we were lobbying or asking for school libraries to be included in OFSTED inspections. It annoys many school librarians to have their efforts, and the contributions of the school library to teaching and learning; reading for pleasure; literacy etc to be overlooked and ignored.


So was it a success?
Only time will tell, but my MP will be writing to the minister (Michael Gove) and hopefully we won’t receive the standard reply. Already there has been an Early Day Motion submitted for debate in the House of Commons, and at the time of writing 21 MPs have signed up.

I found the whole day and experience to be quite liberating, exerting my “political freedoms”!

Picture credits: Terry Richards Photography & CILIP; Candy Gourlay and me!

The Reading Agenda

Last week during the Staff Training Days we introduced to teachers the Reading Agenda and the RWC (M) as mentioned frequently in the new Ofsted inspections. RWC(M) = Reading, Writing, Communication and Maths.


As part of this I had a slot to show:


  • how important the role of tutor/teacher is – with them reading during SSR sessions (Sustained Silent Reading or DEAR) rather than marking, doing admin tasks, their students are likely to perform 10-20% in reading tests.


  • What the MRC is doing this academic year to support and promote Reading for Pleasure


  • Some of the MRC services that are available to staff to support ‘Literacy Across the Curriculum’ as Ofsted Inspectors are asking individual subject teachers “What are you doing to support Reading for PLeasure in your subject?”



Comenius Fairy Tale Project – continued

Our version of Jack and the Beanstalk keeps getting better and better. I went to a rehearsal last week and parts had been given out and most knew all their words.


The feedback I gave them all was about talking more slowly – a really difficult thing to remember when you are nervous and just want to get to the end of your lines. The different narrators were effective popping in and out of the action but they need to ‘make their presence’ larger to gain the audiences’ attention.

Final rehearsal tomorrow and then the real thing, performing to the other schools at Spalding later this week.

Good Luck to you all!




The latest Comenius Project – funded by the Education and Culture DG Lifelong Learning Programme is based upon Fairy Tales – and as soon as I heard that I knew that the MRC should be involved.


It is a two year project working with some of our students (11-18) from Thomas Deacon Academy and other schools across Europe,- Lincolnshire UK;Germany; and Slovakia.