Everyone has had something to say about the SATS this week and, despite the fact that I can parse a sentence with the best of them, I certainly believe that the ‘naming of parts’ approach to literacy teaching is highly reductive and a waste of time (‘split digraph’ anyone?). However, I was more disturbed by the report about a the books cause mental illness. At first I thought it was a double-bluff to get children reading – nothing makes people want to read something more than banning it – but, headteacher in Gloucester who has urged pupils not to read Harry Potter claiming sadly, this was not the case. The head also said other fantasy titles such as Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games and Terry Pratchett books encourage ‘difficult behaviour’. He told parents to steer clear of JK Rowling’s ‘frightening’ books and that they should read classics like Dickens, Keats, Shelley and Shakespeare.

This is a preposterous notion: even a smattering of Dickens’ prose or Shakespeare’s drama would give us enough violence, gore and dark psychosis to make Katniss shiver. What Dickens, Shakespeare, Rowling and Pratchett have in common is that they can all tell damn good stories and that is what gets us all –children and adults – reading. And, furthermore, reading is what will, above all, develop children’s literacy skills.                 

So, I can just about put up with the Department for Education telling me that I must never end a sentence with an exclamation mark if I haven’t used ‘What’ or  ‘How’ to begin it but I certainly won’t contemplate banning books that children love to read! (See what I just did, Mr Gibb?)

Have a good weekend, and all the very best to our Year 11 girls who go on study leave today for their GCSE exams next week.