On Friday last week, the winners of this year's BBC Radio 2, 500 WORDS competition were announced during a special broadcast of Chris Evans’ Radio 2 Breakfast Show.
To be able to listen to the stories at home, during Half Term was a real treat. I was particularly impressed with Lara Akhurst’s ‘Blue’ (read by Eleanor Tomlinson), who is 11 years old from Hertfordshire. Lara’s writing was not only mature, but immensely moving. It was referred to as ‘elegantly written’ in the way the descriptions of different types of water linked Lara’s memories together. It was a quietly touching and beautiful.
In sharp contrast, there was great media excitement the week before Half Term, around the publication of the new Collin’s Scrabble word list which included obvs (obviously), ridic (ridiculous), lolz (laughs), shizzle (US rap slang) and cakehole (mouth). Other new words in the list reflect contemporary trends and events, such as onesie and shootie (shoe that covers the ankle). I am not sure that I agree with the additions, but realise that we do have to change with the times. I know that dictionaries have always included formal and informal English and I do feel that these changes are a reflection of how flexible our English language is. Some would argue that without slang and informal English we would never have had the works of Shakespeare.
This has made me think about the importance of language, reading and the love of the spoken word. Not only was the Radio 2 competition evidence that we have some talented writers but a recent National Literacy Trust survey showed that a record number of children enjoy reading and that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children who read every day. This is exactly why we have put so much time and energy into establishing our Reading Room at Invicta – a room aimed at encouraging our girls to just sit down and enjoy a ‘good read’. I am extremely grateful to Mrs Mackie, our Librarian and Mrs Hutton, Lead Teacher of English, who have spent a considerable amount of time in both setting up and maintaining the Reading Room. It is therefore extremely exciting and rewarding to know that we have just received an Award from the Kent Messenger for promoting literacy and reading for pleasure. This is a great tribute to Mrs Mackie and to our English Department but, what is even better, is that our students will not only contribute to the increased number of children reading every day, but that in doing so, they will learn to explore their creativity through reading and writing – using language in whatever form! So, as Chris Evans commented ‘to all the authors of tomorrow, keep reading, keep those pens poised and keep the stories flowing from the irrepressible imagination.’ I shall look forward to many ‘good reads’ and lots of ‘new vocabulary’ in the future!