Hugh Gaitskell superhero students spend day with children’s author Jason Beresford

Children’s author Jason Beresford spent the day with students at Hugh Gaitskell Primary School to celebrate the launch of the Leeds Year of Reading in September.

The visit commenced with a whole school assembly, which saw Jason play ukulele and perform a role-play with students who transformed into superheroes. Every class in the school then participated in interactive workshops led by the author, which were based around the superhero theme and involved reading, writing, singing and drama.

“I was invited to Hugh Gaitskell School as part of the school’s focus on promoting reading and making reading fun,” explained Jason.

“The kids have been fantastic. They really engaged with it all, and even asked for an encore, shouting “We want more!” as they left.”

Jason Beresford was formerly a primary teacher who taught at Highfield School in Leeds for five years. He then went on to work in television, first as a presenter and then as a director for Emmerdale and Coronation Street. He’s famously quoted as saying his TV career “was never as much fun as telling stories to kids”.

Speaking about the workshops, year five student Mackenzie (pictured) said: “It was really good and funny. My favourite part was when we sang the songs”

The event was coordinated by assistant head teacher and English lead, Lucy Fox, who explained that:

“Reading is a key focus for us at the school. All the children practice “ERIC” (everyone reading in class) every day.

“As well as investing in a new library bus, we have been improving reading corners and have just launched a new electronic system that enables children to take interactive comprehension quizzes after reading books. Our reading programmes and activities are designed to engage children from all backgrounds and cultures.”

The Year of Reading, announced by Leeds City Council and the UK’s largest children’s reading charity BookStart, aims to activate the whole city around reading and the love of reading.

Currently there is a large gap in achievement between secondary school students who read books for pleasure and those who do not, and the strongest predictor of reading growth from age 10 to age 16 is whether a child reads for pleasure.

A BookTrust review in 2016 found that a love of reading leads to a love of learning and this helps to underpin achievement in all subjects at both primary and secondary schools. BookTrust will be providing over £1million in books and resources for children and families in Leeds over the next three years.

For more information about the Leeds Year of Reading click here.

Follow the Year of Reading on Twitter @LeedsYOR  and use the hashtag #LeedsLovesReading if you want to get involved.