Lancaster school features in BBC programme on literacy

Ripley pupils with Javone Prince during the filming for BBC2 programme The School That Got Teens Reading. Photo: BBC
Ripley pupils with Javone Prince during the filming for BBC2 programme The School That Got Teens Reading. Photo: BBC

The secret behind how a Lancaster school inspired its pupils to pick up more books was revealed in a BBC TV programme at the weekend.

The School That Got Teens Reading was shown on BBC2 on Saturday evening, when actor Javone Prince and presenter Helen Skelton attempted to inspire Ripley St Thomas CE Academy’s most reluctant readers to take the plunge and make reading for pleasure a habit for life.

Despite Ripley’s outstanding Ofsted report the school has still struggled to get some of its teenage pupils to engage in reading.

The school was chosen by the BBC as part of its #LoveToRead campaign to feature in a one-hour documentary to be shown at prime time on Saturday evening – up against Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor.

It was picked after the BBC contacted the National Literacy Trust for help in recommending 20 potential schools to take part in the programme.

This was eventually whittled down to three, and finally Ripley was chosen.

Ripley principal Liz Nicholls said the whole school enjoyed the experience.

“It was all very exciting,” she said. “They wanted to be in a school that did everything possible to get the children to read, but that still had a few who were reluctant to read, to see if they could engage with them.

“They told us they wanted to make a landmark documentary.”

Fifteen Year 10 children were chosen, and Javone Prince was then called in to work with them, followed by Helen Skelton.

“The story of the programme is whether they get them to read,” Mrs Nicholls said. “They went to the pupils’ homes, met their parents and took them for days out.”

The BBC spent seven weeks of the summer term filming in school.

“It made us realise how very demanding programmes like Educating Yorkshire must have been,” Mrs Nicholls said.

“We had cameras following us about for seven weeks, just for a one hour programme.

“But it was a very interesting experience and we can’t wait to see it on TV.”