Students inspired to read ‘widely and often’ in literary challenge

March 18th, 2019

Year 10 students at Hull’s Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) are being encouraged to broaden their literary horizons in a reading challenge supported by the school’s Founding Partners.

‘Reading Widely and Often’ is a new initiative set up to encourage students’ to improve and widen their knowledge through reading different genres.

In the first part of the challenge Year 10 students will read and review a short story each week throughout the year, selected from books in the employer-led school’s library.

Genres include historical or science fiction, stories from other cultures, fantasy or gothic tales. Each book contains six stories, giving students plenty of variety throughout the year.

The second part of the initiative - entitled Charlie’s Challenge after Founding Partner Charlie Spencer OBE, Executive Chairman of engineering firm Spencer Group - tasks students to choose one novel, one biography or autobiography, and one leadership or management book to read during the school year, with deadlines set for each.

Pictured: Allan Hunt (Engineering Programme Manager for Research & Innovation at Smith & Nephew); student Sinead Shears; student Lewis Stevenson; Paul Furnival (IT Services Manager at Spencer Group); James Chadband (Software Development Manager at Spencer Group); and Anthony Smith (Senior Design Technician at Spencer Group).

Students met with Business Mentors from Spencer Group and fellow Founding Partners KCOM, Siemens Gamesa, Smith & Nephew, RB and the University of Hull to discuss their most inspiring reads at the challenge launch.

Some of the books included The One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, The Goal by Eliyahu M Goldratt, and The Language of Kindness by Christine Watson – all of which offer valuable advice and insight which could inspire the students as they look ahead to their future careers.

Joanne Campbell, Assistant Principal of English and Literacy at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “There are lots of benefits associated with our ‘Reading Widely and Often’ challenge.

“Reading gives access to a wider vocabulary and the more our students read the better they perform in exams. We want reading to be part of life, not just a bolt-on to education.

“The students have really got on board with it. It’s been very well received and our Business Mentors have done a great job inspiring the students to read more.”

Anthony Smith, Senior Design Technician at Spencer Group, said he believes Charlie’s Challenge is a “fantastic idea”.

“Reading books isn’t necessarily a skill which is built into the students’ nature and can sometimes be lost because of technology, with a preference to reading online,” he said.

“There is a sense of achievement at the end of reading a book. Strong leadership works from the top down and involves a behavioural pattern. If you instil that early enough, they take that on board, which is really important.”

Year 10 student Lewis Stevenson, 15, said: “Reading not only boosts your imagination, but also boosts productivity with your learning in all lessons.

“I read a lot and I already have ideas of which other books I’d like to read. Reading enables you to go to a different place and see the world from the comfort of your own home.”

Fellow Year 10 student Sinead Shears, also 15, said: “I’m an avid reader and science fiction is my favourite genre, so I’m looking forward to reading even more.

“I have such a rich literary diet and books give you perspective, which is important.”

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