March 24, 2021
Students and staff are celebrating at the Cornelius Vermuyden School after being the first school in the country to receive the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group (CWIG) Reading for Pleasure Award during the 2020-21 academic year. This is especially pleasing following the year of educational turbulence that everyone has faced following the pandemic.
The Society of Authors is a trade union for professional authors of 11,000 members. Over 11% belong to the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group (CWIG) and these authors regularly visit schools across the country delivering talks and workshops. The society believes that reading is the core skill that liberates all aspects of education – so they have established an award scheme that allows individual authors to celebrate schools for their excellence and reward those schools that go the extra mile in encouraging children to read for pleasure.
In the congratulatory letter to the school, Jo McCrum (Head of Group for the Society of Authors) outlined,
“It was wonderful to hear about the work you have done (and achieved) at the school from Society of Authors member Beatrice Twumasi; and I have seen from Twitter the positive comments made about the school from authors Celia Rees and Catherine Johnson (both former CWIG committee members)”.
The school has seen a radical overhaul of reading provision and strategy since the Section 5 Ofsted inspection in December 2019 deemed the school as “requires improvement”. Ofsted. in their report stated, “Pupils do not read widely. The resources in the library do not meet the needs of pupils”.
Whilst lockdown from March through to July was extremely hard for students and families, the staff at Cornelius Vermuyden School were extremely proactive in developing their brand new library, purchasing new furniture, IT equipment, significantly expanding the volume of age appropriate and relevant books by over 5000, employing a full-time librarian, developing a new whole school reading strategy and implementing a new READ teaching and learning cycle (Recall, Explicit Instruction, Application, Determine Understanding) which outlines the importance of reading whilst building on subject specific knowledge.
Ian Hockey (Headteacher) added;
“We are delighted at achieving this award, especially to receive external validation of the progress that we have made against our collective objectives. I would like to thank the school’s governors, the staff, our students and their families for ensuring that reading is central to everything we do. This is only the start, as we use this initial triumph to further provide students with the best opportunities to be successful in the future”.
Beatrice Twumasi (Society of Authors Member) reinforced the school’s development since the first lockdown.
“Students have 18 hours a year timetabled time in the lower school for 'reading for pleasure' and can choose from 7287 titles within the new library. This has increased from 2000 titles since 2019. This beautiful library is the heart of the school with a passionate librarian who makes amazing displays that capture the attention of our students. Additionally, 40% of tutor time is now also used for reading fiction and non-fiction texts; I have personally seen a student buy a book as a result of these sessions. It is my pleasure to recommend this school”.
Whilst the ever-increasing library has been popular amongst staff and students and has acted as a catalyst for improvement, Assistant Headteacher Chris Bentley stated:
“Through heightening the importance of reading, increasing its prevalence within the curriculum, updated facilities, a focus on reading for pleasure and fantastic parental support, our pupils have shown massive progress in their reading. On average, each Key Stage 3 child has made over 10 months progress within the last 3 months. Our pupils should be very proud of this huge achievement. One Year 7 boy, Ben Murphy, has already read over a million words!”
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Cornelius Vermuyden are an official member of NACE (National association of Able Children in England).
Not only does this partnership support our development of our highest achieving pupils, it supports the development of every pupil in the school. We are committed to ensuring that a high level of challenge exists in the classroom in every lesson and to help potential convert to success and happiness for our pupils. We are firm believers that "rising tides lift all ships" and that if all students have a daily diet of challenging experiences at school and beyond, then this will help support their educational and personal development as learners and as people. Yet, as our 2016 GCSE results showed, those who come to us classed as more able achieve incredible results – for example, Callum Cuthbert leaving the school with 11 A* grades is an achievement that is not just well above the national average in terms of progress and achievement, but one that should be celebrated in terms of the school's work with its high achieving pupils.
However, here at Cornelius Vermuyden, we promote the ethos that all children must be given access to a positive mindset in terms of their learning. The message is clear; all young people are capable of reaching any goal they set their mind to if they are challenged and show a positive attitude to self - improvement . Cornelius Vermuyden places challenge and the importance of a 'growth mindset' at the heart of its teaching and learning vision for our pupils and our association with NACE is supporting this commitment to all pupils at the school.