Read On Nottingham and Usborne Books team up to support Clifton pupils’ transition to secondary school

21 Oct 2019
Darren Simpson Scavengers

Our Read On Nottingham campaign has teamed up with the leading independent children’s publisher in the UK, Usborne Books, to gift every single child starting Year 7 at The Nottingham Emmanuel School and The Farnborough Academy a copy of Scavengers by Darren Simpson.

The literacy-focused project aims make pupils’ transition to secondary school as smooth as possible by helping them discover the joy of reading. Our research found that the longer children maintain a love of reading, the greater the benefits for their reading skills. 10-year-olds who enjoy reading have a reading age 1.3 years above their peers who don’t enjoy reading; this rises to 2.1 years for 12-year-olds and 3.3 years for 14-year-olds[1].

The pupils from Clifton read the first chapter of Scavengers at the end of their primary school summer term. Upon arriving at secondary school in September, every pupil received a free copy of the book to keep and enjoy at home.

Scavengers is the story of a boy called Landfill, who has lived his whole life as a scavenger, running with wooflings, swimming with turtles and feasting on whatever he can catch. Old Babagoo has always looked after him on the condition that he follows his rules, and the most important rule of all is to never go beyond the wall. But Landfill longs to venture ‘Outside’ and discovers that some rules are made to be broken.

The author of the book, Darren Simpson, visited The Farnborough Academy and The Nottingham Emmanuel School to engage pupils further in the benefits of reading and writing. Darren hosted an assembly, signed books and launched a brand new creative writing competition, exclusive to the pupils taking part in the programme, in which they can win up to £30 worth of book tokens.

Read On Nottingham is a campaign that we lead in partnership with Small Steps Big Changes and the National Lottery Community Fund. It works at community level to bring children and families a love of reading and improve their life chances.

Emily Landsborough, Read On Nottingham Manager, said:

“We know that pupils’ love of reading is highest at the end of primary school, but drops off when they start secondary school. Last year 1 in 3 pupils in England failed to achieve a good grade in English language at GCSE[2], so it’s really important to maintain pupils’ interest in reading and writing when they reach secondary school. We hope that the students at The Nottingham Emmanuel School and The Farnborough Academy have been inspired to read for pleasure outside the classroom and we can’t wait to read their competition entries!”

Darren Simpson, Scavengers author, said:

“Visiting schools is one of my favourite parts of being a children’s author. The pupils at The Farnborough Academy and the Nottingham Emmanuel School were so insightful, witty and engaged, and it was very moving to see them getting excited about Scavengers. Helping children to read regularly for pleasure can have huge implications for their confidence and future prospects. Just as importantly, they’ll learn that books offer a calm, personal space in which they can slow down to explore not only the world, but also their place within it.”

Toni Slee, Learning Resource Centre Manager at The Farnborough Academy, said:

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for our Year 7 pupils. They have really enjoyed reading Scavengers in their library lessons and they thoroughly enjoyed his visit. He did a fabulous job of getting them to make sense of what they were reading and where Darren’s ideas came from, which will in turn help them develop their own stories. It has been a brilliant project which we are all incredibly happy to be part of.”

Megan Farrow-Griffiths, English Teacher at The Nottingham Emmanuel School, said:

‘The students really enjoyed meeting Darren. There was a real buzz and excitement about it all day and I had great feedback from other teachers too, who were all impressed with how Darren was able to engage the whole year group!’

Rosie in Year 7 at The Farnborough Academy said:

“The event was very, very inspirational!”

Another pupils, Scarlett, said:

“It has inspired me to write a book!”

Read On Nottingham is also working with Usborne to celebrate 20 years of their bestselling touchy-feely That’s not my… books. Hundreds of copies were given away to families as part of events over the summer and will be available in Nottingham’s libraries during the upcoming festive period.

[1] National Literacy Trust (2017), Celebrating Reading for Enjoyment

[2] Department for Education (DfE), 2018