Current & forthcoming events
Mrs Count, Assistant Librarian, hosts the Creative Writing Club at lunchtime on Thursdays, with workshops on various subjects from point of view to flash fiction to evoking emotion through setting. All are welcome, including staff.
Writing Retreat 2018
Burford School’s first Writing Retreat held on 19 April. The day was a huge success, with members of Writing Club from Years 7, 8, 9 & 12 spending the day in the gardens and ballroom at Asthall Manor. The retreat was designed to inspire them, as well as to give them the rare opportunity to take time out of their day-to-day lives, go somewhere new, and completely focus on improving their writing and storytelling skills. We were also fortunate to secure a few hours with Lower School Patron of Reading Ian Johnstone, who gave a short talk on the elements of story and afterwards held one-on-one feedback sessions with each student where he could provide encouragement and guidance on their creative work. Fortunately the weather was on our side, and students were able to spend the afternoon in the gardens and by the river, where they were encouraged to draw inspiration from their surroundings in writing nature poetry and setting a scene.
Reading Week 2018
Reading Week started on Monday 26 February with excitement and a great degree of optimism as we firmly ignored the threat of snow lingering in the forecast. Our optimism was well-deserved, as we welcomed Monday and Tuesday our Upper School Patron of Reading Martin Stewart, who flew down from Glasgow to give talks and workshops on editing and frightening teddy bears to English classes in Years 10-13. (Fortunately, Martin did make it home—but a day later than intended, and after driving the entire way in a rented 4×4!)
On Wednesday, Year 7 English classes were in for a treat, as Lower School Patron of Reading Ian Johnstone visited with his treasured Box of Things: a chest of all sorts of strange objects to inspire the classes’ creative writing.
The snow started to fall hard on Thursday morning, but it didn’t stop students from trudging to the library to grab emergency books for Drop Everything and Read Period 1, which was a refreshing start to the day and a comforting way to slow down a busy week. Shortly after, school closed due to the snow—at least ensuring that everyone had a book for the long weekend!
With a brief delay, we topped off our now-renamed Reading Fortnight with the World Book Day Book Fair on Thursday 8 March, and teams from Year 7s to Foreign Language Staff got their buzzer hands warmed up for the Bumper Book Quiz on Friday 9 March. Year 7 team Unicorn Squad (Maddy McKeer-Williams, Charlie Gilbert, and Olivia Middleton, all of 7JDA) went home with the chocolate prize, with English staff coming a close second.
6 December: Jim Kay – the man who brings Hogwarts to life!
We were delighted to have Jim Kay back with us in early December. He gave a talk about the challenging task of illustrating the Harry Potter books – with tips and techniques for our artists and ‘all things Potter’ for our Hogwarts enthusiasts. Students were also able to buy a copy of the latest illustrated book to be published, The Prisoner of Azkaban. Jim signed each one and added a little illustration for each student!
Thursday 9 November 2017: Oxfordshire Book Awards 2017
The 2017 Oxfordshire Book Awards were a great success, with thirteen Burford School students attending Oxford High School to see their favourite authors and illustrators speak. We enjoyed everything from an only slightly inappropriate reading by comedian/author David Baddiel to a literal hug-fest with former Burford School Patron of Reading Jo Cotterill, who took home the prize of Best Secondary Novel for her book A Library of Lemons.
We were also treated to a sneak preview of next year’s longlist with a talk from writer and illustrator of Thornhill Pam Smy, and had a look into the life of one of our new Patrons of Reading Ian Johnstone and his fantasy trilogy The Mirror Chronicles.
Afterward, we celebrated the day with cake, then vanquished the crowds to buy books from Blackwell and have them signed by the authors. It was a brilliant day and we are extremely excited to start reading for next year’s awards.
Tuesday 10 October: Author visit – Ian Johnstone
Ian Johnstone, author of the Mirror Chronicles, visited the library on Tuesday 10 October and ran two workshops for Years 7 and 8. Ian has travelled widely whilst working in publishing and he and his family have gathered many interesting artefacts. These he used to great effect when students delved through the straw in his magic ‘Shop of Things’ to find something to inspire their story writing skills.
The students were asked to imagine: What could the objects be? Where might they be from? What might they be capable of doing? Following the writing exercise, there was a general clamour to look at Ian’s books in The Mirror Chronicles series and buy signed copies. As he is an Oxford-based author, we are hopeful that Ian will return to visit us again soon.
Friday 6 October: Author visit: Lockwood & Co come to Burford
On Friday 10 October, bestselling author Jonathan Stroud visited Burford School, along with a member of Penguin Books and a team from Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford. He came to talk to students in Years 8 & 9 about his newest book in the Lockwood & Co series, The Empty Grave.
Jonathan began by signing books in the Library during the lunch period where he was mobbed by admiring fans – students, staff and our former Patron of Reading! Speaking to around 400 students after lunch, most from Burford but also some from Chipping Norton School, he started his talk by playing a trailer to one of his books. It was a great way to begin and as the lights went out and everyone began to scream the perfect atmosphere was created. The students were hooked for the next hour.
People always want to know how an author became a writer and Jonathan explained that he’d started at about the age of 10. He showed the students some examples of his early writing efforts – an effective way to illustrate how long the journey had been, from enthusiastic primary school boy, through editor in London to his current position as a highly successful author loved across the world.
He read a short piece from the first Lockwood & Co book The Screaming Staircase, before kitting out one of our Year 8 students in everything one needs to hunt ghosts. He then finished the hour with a busy question and answer session and a further book signing in the Library.
Tuesday 26 September: Author entertains Year 8 students
On Tuesday 26 September visiting author, Ben Davis, entertained Year 8s with tales of embarrassing relatives, followed by a collaborative effort in creating Burford’s very own mortifying socks-with-sandals-wearing grandfather. Ben then topped off the morning by hosting a book sale and signing of his popular Private Blog of Joe Cowley series.
Creative Writing Workshop at Burford Festival
The Burford School Creative Writing Club was treated to a special event with top literary agent, Catherine Clark, who gave a talk on the publishing process and what it takes to get published in this highly competitive world. In addition she answered questions from the audience on what goes in to taking a book from manuscript to reader.
Carnegie Day 2017
The Carnegie Conference took place on 20 June. Students met at Chipping Norton School with three other schools for a day of presentations, quizzes, and a particularly difficult round of Just a Minute, and had a chance to vote for their favourite Carnegie shortlisted book. Team Salt to the Sea took home the prize for winning book and best presentation. The shield is now proudly on display at Burford School Library.
Reading Week 2017
In March we kept busy with a jam-packed reading week, featuring visits by authors Jo Cotterill and Martin Stewart, as well as a Team Book Quiz, New Book Sale, and Poetry Slam.