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Headteacher’s Blog

Burford School is ambitious for its students and staff. The development of the school is a constant process of review and adaptation. Our heads of academic departments work daily with their teams to seek out the most effective and engaging teaching ideas, ensuring students are given the best of education. We believe that providing the best education involves a broad curriculum, embracing academic study, sport, music, drama and the wider Arts.

As a school, we do not stand still in providing the facilities that accommodate these opportunities. Last term I was able to write about the new all-weather artificial hockey pitch and how it supports improvement to our sports curriculum. Today I am excited to bring you news of further development of the site in bringing the library to the middle of the school. We have repurposed some spaces more central to the school as part of ongoing improvements over the coming three years that will see an increase in the capacity of dining and in turn consolidate the spaces making up the Sixth Form Centre.

The library is central to any school serious about learning. More than symbolic, it provides the hub for the community to come together around the skills upon which academic success is built. All learning starts from the process of reading and research. Passions, thoughts and creative enterprise grow from the fundamental skill of reading. Personal connections are also made through the sharing of reading.

Early this week I asked for staff to provide examples of how reading is embedded in the teaching of their subject. I was inundated with a variety of ways and can only include a few here. (I apologise to anyone who provided contributions that I have not been able to fit into this piece).

In History alone, there are many opportunities for developing a relationship with the written word. In Key Stage 3, for example, Year 7 students engage with historian Marc Morris’ interpretation that the Norman Conquest was the most significant event in English history. Year 8 students examine how Miranda Kaufman uncovered the lives of Black Tudors as well as analyse Emma Griffin’s interpretation of the Industrial Revolution in ‘Liberty’s Dawn’. While Year 9 students consider the extent to which the First World War was a ‘world war’ through reading David Olusoga’s ‘The World’s War’.

Meanwhile, in Year 7 all students have timetabled lessons in the Library as part of the English curriculum. Years 8 and 9 students also regularly have lessons to develop reading for pleasure. World Book Day on 2 March will soon be upon us and the English department is lining up a range of activities to further complement its existing strategies throughout the year.

Sixth Form students studying psychology and sociology have a lunchtime book club discussing a new chapter every week of a book. This club stretches students well beyond the curriculum, preparing them for future study. While articles that reach beyond the curriculum are embedded within schemes of learning in science, with students quizzed online about the themes covered.

I leave you with some final words from Mrs Count and Mrs Howard, our Library team:

The Library’s fiction stock is specially curated to entertain and inform; reading, however, is also a key way in which young people learn empathy and respect for others. Students in the Library are encouraged to interact positively with their peers, and we pride ourselves on building relationships and improving wellbeing through book recommendations, Library activities, or in just being a friendly face.

The Library offers a wealth of extra-curricular activities to participate in, from Dungeons & Dragons Club, which encourages teamwork and creative and strategic thinking, to Writing Club, where members are awarded with an annual Writing Retreat, to fun Fridays with Chess and Board Game Club. Student Librarians also serve their school community on a weekly basis, helping to shelve, tidy, create displays, and issue and return books.

The Library challenges students with books that will stretch them, ranging from classic English texts to volumes on theoretical physics. Regular competitions encourage students to hone their skills in art, writing, and creative thinking. Prizes are available for individuals or groups. Writing Club members have gone on to win short story awards and study Creative Writing at university. We support students in researching and obtaining resources for the A-Level Extended Project Qualification, while author visits give students a glimpse of a possible future and help them to dream. We always encourage students to reach for more, no matter where they begin.

Mr M Albrighton

Friday 20 January 2023

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