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Patron of Reading

What is a Patron of Reading?

A Patron of Reading is a school’s special, designated children’s author with whom the school forms a personal attachment. The author might be a writer of fiction, a writer of non-fiction, a poet, a storyteller, a graphic novelist or an illustrator. They will work with the school for a period of approximately three years to raise the profile of reading for pleasure with pupils, parents and staff.


Ian Johnstone

Our current Lower School Patron of Reading is local author Ian Johnstone Ian writes middle year fantasy fiction, and has so far released two books in his Mirror Chronicles trilogy, with the third due in 2021. Ian has many years of experience in publishing and will bring a knowledgeable and encouraging voice to his talks and workshops for Years 7, 8 and 9.


Martin Stewart




Our Upper School and Sixth Form Patron of Reading is not-so-local author Martin Stewart Martin’s debut novel Riverkeep had a path to publication as unique as Martin’s literary voice, and it has made the longlist for a number of awards including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. His novel for young adults The Sacrifice Box was  released in January of 2018. Martin lives in Troon near Glasgow, and in addition to visits to Burford School holds interactive sessions with classes remotely via Skype and Microsoft Teams.


What does a Patron do?

  • Visits the school regularly to inspire and engage with students.
  • Writes a regular piece for the School Newsletter.
  • Supports the Summer Reading Challenge run between the School and Burford Library.
  • Shares ideas regarding reading, books and libraries.
  • Judges the writing competitions run throughout the school.
  • Speaks at and presents workshops during Reading Week.
  • Attends key English Forums for parents.


A message from Martin 

My relationship with Burford began in 2017 ― I had been nominated for the Oxfordshire Book Award, and spoke in my delight to Lynne and Ashley in the library. I’d suggested a visit to discuss the creative process ― in response, Lynne coordinated a full day at Burford, as well as visits to other schools in the area.

This is not a typical response, but Burford’s librarians are not typical librarians. Their library is a special place, in which pupils feel safe and nurtured and enthused, and I love following their adventures on Instagram!

I returned to Burford in early 2018 and spent another wonderful day in the company of engaged, enthusiastic young people who conducted themselves immaculately throughout. My visits to Burford are never less than a total joy, and I sincerely hope that my input makes a positive contribution to engagement, confidence and attainment in writing in the senior school.

I can’t wait to contribute in this new term, either in person or by Skype ― using the library’s wonderful ICT facilities.

Good luck as you begin your new courses ― and happy reading!


Joe Cotterill Burford School

Jo Cotterill

Author Jo Cotterill was our first Patron of Reading, serving Burford School for a term of three years.  She contributed enormously to inspiring our students to enjoy their reading.



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