The challenge: To engage boys in writing through a range of extra-curricular activities with a view to improving results and take up at A Level

Year 1

A weekly tutor time session ‘Reading Escapes’ and a schedule of tutor time library visits were introduced. The creation of a calendar of national literary events and extra-curricular clubs increased provision for students. The Kids Lit Quiz and the Carnegie Shadowing Scheme were held in the library with themed book displays. Librarians visited other local libraries to gather ideas, and changes were made to the library layout, furniture and stock. Investigations into changes to Key Stage 3 class reader texts began, with pupil voice and staff research conducted.

Year 2

The range of extra-curricular events was increased, including the Arvon Creative Writing residential retreat with Mark Ellis and Liz Flanagan. These authors were selected to appeal to boys through the science-fiction genre. The whole school Arts Festival included a performance poetry workshop, a performance from Ash Dickinson and students performed their own creative writing. The slam poetry and performances demonstrated a huge increase in student confidence. Promotion of UNESCO student ambassadors at the National Centre for Writing resulted in four successful students and attendance to workshops. Students from the Arvon trip and the ambassadors created a Creative Writing club, held in the library at lunchtime.

Year 3

A ‘Caught Reading’ rewards raffle and the Reading Challenge were embedded into the homework timetable. Reading Café and sixth form assemblies were added to World Book Day. Due to its popularity, the second year of the Arvon creative writing residential trip was oversubscribed, as were trips to the National Centre for Writing. There was an increase in the number of students participating in the Kids’ Lit Quiz showing the increasing popularity of extra-curricular events. A male Sixth Form student was also awarded the 2020 Young Norfolk Laureateship at the National Centre for Writing; this student had attended the performance poetry workshop with Ash Dickinson at the previous Arts Festival. The addition of a male sixth form subject leader and two additional male staff into the Key Stage 5 team also help to change the profile of Literature to students.


The project has transformed the culture of reading and creative writing in the College. The library is now a lively and well supported space, with regular clubs and themed displays. Reading for pleasure is now embedded into daily school life and extra-curricular provision has dramatically increased. There have been scheme of work and curriculum changes to set texts in Key Stage 3. Pupil voice and participation reflect these positive changes combined with progress data for the Key Stage 3 curriculum changes. There was also an increase in students using the library outside of lesson time.

A review of gender gap at GCSE showed that whilst the gender gap is still present, performance is above national levels. It is hoped that other elements of the project will start to have an impact on results over time. The challenges remain but the new initiatives are changing student perceptions.

Contact | Fiona Borrett