Talking Gorilla with Gill Lewis

Local author Gill Lewis has visited us before, and having written several new books we felt it was time to invite her back to work with Y7. And what a fantastic morning we all had!

We began with a writing workshop, designed to help students think of different ways to get their creative juices flowing. English teachers chose those they thought would enjoy and benefit from this – 23 in all.

Gill, also an accomplished artist, always begins with sketches and doodles to help her create her landscapes and characters. We looked at graphic novels where the pictures are the most important aspect of the story before Gill unveiled a fantastic object to fire up a story: a real wolf’s skull! As a group we imagined what it would look like, where it would live and who might have killed the last one (back in the 1700s) and why. Then students lost themselves in their own imaginations, sketching and writing their own version of the story. 

After a quick break, we set Gill  up in the main theatre so that all 270 Y7 students could meet her to hear about her early work as a vet, how she came to write (we all want our own tree house btw!)and the topics that inspire her. They enthusiastically returned her greetings in Gorilla speak, before settling down to an amazing presentation of pictures, films and readings. We learnt about the dwindling numbers of Hen Harriers on the moors in this country (40% fewer in the lifetime to a Y7 student) and the not so different plight of Gorillas losing their habitats for the sake of our smart phones.

There were plenty of questions and then Gill spent 30 minutes meeting students for a quick chat while she signed their books.


There has been a lovely buzz around school since, and the Library reading room was quiet at lunchtime as students got stuck into their new and thought provoking books!

Many thanks to Gill and all the teachers involved in the morning – the logistics for it are pretty crazy!


Lest we forget – whole school Breakout


To mark the very special World War 1 Centenary Backwell School collapsed the timetable for most of the day on Thursday so that we could all pause and consider exactly what these brave men and women did for us. Teachers prepared lessons looking at conscientious objections, the role of women, Post Traumatic Stress and medicine, and musical and dramatic moments were inspired by some of these themes.

To support all this thought-provoking and inventive work, the Library displayed stories, poetry, memoirs, films and informative books with WW1 as their backdrops, publishing lists for students to pick up on later in time.


Lest we forget list for KS3

Lest we forget list for KS4 & 5

We made Readings of Remembrance for  KS3 and KS4/5 so that teachers could read excerpts of titles on the lists above at the beginning of each lesson:


P1 KS3 Reading Armistice Runner

Thanks to Twitter, we unashamedly copied another library’s idea to display objects alongside the books. We asked staff, parents and relatives for objects to really bring the period to life – and have been inundated!

Display in Library

Lunchtimes have been busy with students keen to get their hands on the items (especially the rifle!) Mr Derrick, who lent several weapons and helmets, kindly gave up his lunchtime on Thursday to be on hand (wearing cotton gloves obviously!) to explain the intricacies of his items. He was joined by some of our visiting veterans, and staff who were involved in the day. 


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We all made a poppy in the morning to contribute to our lasting memento of the day. Cedric and is now residing in the school foyer against an amazing backdrop created by students today, in the style of Paul Nash.



Bristol Teen Book Award

The Bristol Teen Book Award is an exciting new award celebrating diversity in Young Adult novels. It was launched this summer and has shortlisted six recently published books from the UK all with a theme of diversity and identity. Young people in Bristol and the surrounding area are invited to read as many titles as they can and it is THEY who will be voting for the winner early next year!

BTBA 2018 shortlist slide

We will be promoting these titles to students in Y9 and above. They are displayed in the Library and available to borrow.  

Books for Gamers

Our latest Reading list was compiled as a result of the Library Ladiez belonging to a new Facebook group, Secondary School Librarians. We honestly can’t remember life before Social Media – what a change it has made to our work! School Library staff are often lone workers with a different professional background to the vast majority of teaching staff in their school. We now have online “Staffrooms” where we can go for support, advice and ideas from Library workers across the country and often, the world!

Click on the link below the graphic for the pdf version of this wonderful visual list created by Patt Barr who compiled it from suggestions made by members of the Facebook Group. 

Books for Gamers

Books for gamers Poster Pdf

Backwell Library staff post irregularly on this blog, but are also visible on Twitter and Instagram.  Look in the column to the right of this post to see our latest posts. 


Summer reading ideas for Year 7

Y7  Library lessons are now drawing to a close and we have spent our last lesson competing in a Team Quiz which has sorted keen readers from those not so!

As a heads-up: students in Y7 and Y8 will be reading their own choice of book at the start of all English lessons next year. So, before we all go off into the sunset (long may this weather continue) we are posting our latest list of suggestions aimed at Y7 students who wish to keep reading over the holidays and those who want to find a good book ready for September. 

Below is the pdf for the list which contains books we stock here, and that you will also be able to trace in your local public library and any good bookshop.

Y7 Summer Reads 2018

Y7 Summer reading 2018


Fiction suggestions for Y8 Parents Evening

As always we have updated our Read on Y8 book list ready for Parents Evening this evening. English teachers have bookmarks to give out should they wish to encourage students to read more widely, and parents who are looking for ideas to support their child can ask for one.

We have placed a pdf copy here for you to see/print off should anyone have missed the above opportunity:

Read on Yr 8 leaflet

Read on Y8


Football fever hits the Branford Boase Award

The display on Mrs Gibson’s desk recently has contained the books shortlisted for this year’s Branford Boase Award. 

Display pic

The BBA was set up to reward the most promising new writers and their editors, as well as to reward excellence in writing and in publishing. The Award is made annually to the most promising book for seven year-olds and upwards by a first time novelist.

We are pleased to announce that the winner is

Kick by Mitch Johnson

the book we have been promoting in Y7 Reading Lessons this week

Kick is about a young sweatshop worker, Budi, who dreams of being a famous footballer one day just like the stars he watches on the TV. But a misguided kick will soon threatens his life as well as his dreams. The story behind the trainers we all aspire to will make us think about those in far away countries, whose lives are lived on the edge. It is also a tale of danger, friendship and family, that is funny,  heartening and inspiring. Perfect for readers 10-12 years old. 

Here are the other titles on the shortlist, most of which are available in the school Library:

2018 shortlist