Local headteacher, Ms Katie Scott, has introduced a compulsory 10 minutes of reading into the school day.

DEAR (drop everything and read) was first launched at the beginning of the academic year. This isn’t the first time Ms Scott has inaugurated DEAR time into one of her schools claiming that “it was very successful previously.” When asked what benefits it has, she answered “ultimately it serves two purposes: the first about literacy, the second about behaviour and wellbeing. Many girls don’t take a break during lunch or break as they’re still doing work, so it’s about that 10 minutes of escape.” When working at a mixed school one of her main incentives was “calming everyone down after lunch.”

Many students were unsurprisingly disappointed by the ten minutes being taken out of their 50 minute long lunch claiming that it wasn’t enough time for socialisation-a key skill the school should be encouraging. A pupil in year 10 at the school thinks that “it’s a great idea because it encourages all students to read as many don’t do that at home, but I agree that it shouldn’t go into our lunchtime as it makes the actual reading less enjoyable when you’re thinking about what you could be doing instead”. This was a view originally shared by a large number of students and still hasn’t been fully accepted. It allows the brain to reset after the onslaught of teenage power dynamics, stress of looming public exams and the overwhelming yet silently accepted tower of homework.

In a recent school survey, the percentage of students who said they were reading more was higher than 80% which is a remarkable improvement. As DEAR is at the same time every day, it becomes routine, increasing the amount of people who have a habit for reading. We know that lots of teenagers aren’t reading as much as they did in the past with many turning to technology and social media-a fast emerging epidemic. This can have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing, academia and family life.

Problems with reading can stem from a worryingly young age with children from the same background having upwards from a 1000 less words in their general vocabulary than others before they hit primary school. As expressed by Ms Scott, “this basic language gap really impacts.”

In addition to this, generally, the more you read, the quicker the reading speed. This almost guarantees an extra few minutes of writing time in exams as less time is spent reading the questions or rereading your answers and could be the difference between a pass or fail.

Ms Scott has also been reading during the designated 10 minutes, dipping into non-fiction titles regarding education and Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments”-sequel to The Handmaids Tale. Some of her staple reads when she was a teenager include Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (praising its mystery element), The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Will this be the starting point for a new generation of fierce readers at Langley Park School for Girls or a rebellion against the minimisation of their lunch time? DEAR has already proved to increase productivity, here’s to many more years of reading!

By Amelia Downs