At Northampton High we believe holiday time should equal family time. This is why we do not set prep (homework) over any of our school holidays. While there are some good reasons why Years 11 and 13 might deviate from this important rule, we think that even they should spend at least half their school holidays relaxing with the important people in their lives.
Reading for pleasure is not prep, however, and holidays are a great time to develop and strengthen this habit. As you may have seen in my article in Headlines at the start of term, we are starting formal reading weeks, under the banner of our Reach programme, in the weeks immediately before each school break. The aim is that pupils will continue to flick through their books into the holidays themselves, and beyond, of course!
There are enormous benefits to young people when they allow themselves to rest and relax, leading to improvements in mental health and academic performance. Reading too has immense value in shaping well-rounded, informed individuals. By combining reading and relaxing in holidays and the weeks before them we are keen to tap into the positive possibilities of both.
Reading weeks before half-term breaks will be based on non-fiction books and articles, while the weeks in advance of the main term holidays will focus on fiction. For non-fiction reading weeks, teachers will make recommendations based on their subject areas and pupils should aim to pick out around 3 or 4 to investigate. For the fiction reading weeks, the English faculty and the Library will join forces and recommend age-specific texts to fire up the imagination.
Of course, there is something of an ulterior motive behind our reading weeks. Non-fiction texts provide pupils with factual knowledge, fostering critical thinking and research skills. They learn to discern reliable sources, evaluate evidence, and form informed opinions. This equips them to engage with the world intelligently and make well-informed decisions. Likewise, fiction serves a vital role in nurturing empathy and creativity. It exposes pupils to diverse perspectives, cultures, and emotions, helping them understand the complexities of human experiences. They develop strong analytical and interpretive skills and learn to appreciate the nuances of language and storytelling, which enhances their own writing abilities.
We very much hope that our new reading weeks will encourage a love of reading, transcending the confines of academic requirements and providing an avenue for personal growth and enrichment. Reading both fiction and non-fiction works contributes to a holistic education, preparing students for academic success and offering them a deeper understanding of the world. Furthermore, we believe reading can play a pivotal role in moulding intellectually curious, empathetic, and culturally aware individuals, ready to tackle the challenges of an ever-evolving global society.
If you would like to find out more about the Reach reading weeks programme, please feel free to contact Miss Anna Kilby, Reach Coordinator, or me.
Deputy Head Academic