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Less homework, more reading

Mid Canterbury school principal Sean Wansbrough is a keen advocate of the pastime of reading, so much so that the school's homework policy reflects this.

Pupils' homework requirements have been reduced in an effort to increase the time available for them to spend reading.

"What we pretty much say to parents is if your kids read for 15 minutes a day they will learn to read almost in spite of what we do here at school," says Sean.

"I'm not saying they'll become the best readers in the world but they will be competent readers if they just spend that bit of time each night reading," he says.

Sean walks the talk and in so doing won second prize in our nationwide reading event earlier in the year. He attended his school's Book Night activities on May 22, as a way to encourage his pupils and their families in their reading, but ended up winning a parcel of books and a tote bag sponsored by BDS.

"We had a whole lot of computers set up for the kids to register and I was helping them and ...I must have thrown in my name in as well," says Sean, who qualified for the Book Night draw by reading for at least a quarter of an hour.

Unfortunately the demands of Sean's job means he isn't as voracious a reader as he once was.

"I used to be into eclectic novels," he says. "Mostly I read non-fiction at the moment; that's probably where my bent is."

Local BDS book group members Janice Sewell and Raewyn Millar delivered Sean's prize parcel on behalf of BDS in mid-June.

This is the second year that Mt. Somers Springburn School school has participated in our annual all-age reading event, which is designed to promote the benefits of reading. About a dozen families and a few grandparents ventured out on the wet May evening to attend school activities coordinated by year 3 and 4 teacher Valerie Ashton. A swap-a-book table was set up and the sale of hot chocolates raised about $80 towards the school library fund.

"It was a good night," says Sean. "We got books from the school library and brought them into our multipurpose room. People were in there, with the heaters on. It was nice to see families spending time reading together and children celebrating reading."

The school's library is very small but is an important asset for the school, which is more than a half hour's drive to the nearest public library in Ashburton.

Mt. Somers Springburn School is a year 1-8 rural school set in the foothills of Mid Canterbury at the mouth of the Ashburton Gorge.


Book group members Raewyn Millar (L) and Janice Sewell (far right) deliver a prize to Book Night runner-up Sean Wansbrough, principal of Mt Somers Springfield School. On Sean's immediate left is teacher Valerie Ashton, who organised activities at the school as part of the nationwide reading event run by BDS in May.

Families enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of Book Night at the school.

Photos courtesy of Mt Somers Springburn School

The Book Discussion 
Scheme is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations in Aotearoa New Zealand
BDS is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations
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