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Head teacher Andy Somers rallies students at Margate's Hartsdown Technology College to fight poor literacy.

28 February 2014
by Peter Barnett

Hartsdown Technology College head Andy Somers in Churchill mode for the battle against poor literacy.

Hartsdown Technology College head Andy Somers in Churchill mode for the battle against poor literacy.

War has been waged by a Margate school in the interests of its students.

Hartsdown Academy is battling poor literacy in a month long campaign that includes a huge range of activities, workshops, themed lessons and visits.

Executive head teacher Andy Somers addressed more than 1,000 students and staff via the college tannoy system in the severe tones of a Churchill-style speech.

At 11am he declared: “This college is at war with poor literacy.

“In the coming days and weeks we shall pull together in a bold and brave effort to uphold all that is best about the written and spoken word.

“We believe in the power of good communication and we will encourage literacy through our use of books, through discussion, through films, television and radio."

As students arrived at the start of the Word Up Literacy Festival 2014, they were greeted at the gates by anti-literacy hippies with badly-spelt placards. They were countered by the forces of literacy, soldiers who urged youngsters to engage with reading, writing, spelling and grammar.

At one point the two sides clashed and recreated the iconic war/peace image of a flower stem being placed down the barrel of a rifle.

Protestors say it in words at Hartsdown Technology College, Margate, where war has been waged on poor literacy.

Protestors say it in words at Hartsdown Technology College, Margate, where war has been waged on poor literacy.

The Hartsdown festival has a war and peace theme to commemorate the start of the 1914-18 Great War, as well as investigating conflict and resolution across the decades.

Trips to the Spitfire and Hurricane museum at the former Battle of Britain airfield at Manston, and a sobering visit to the battlefields of the Somme, the Menin Gate and museum at Ypres, the wargraves and trenches, are part of the festival.

The Home Front bus which includes a series of wartime inter-active scenarios will visit the college, and students will visit the Operation Dynamo exhibition at Dover.

Throughout the month the accent will be on developing and expanding communication, writing, and reading skills with reading groups, creative writing workshops with poet and author Maggie Harris, the celebration of World Book Day, storytelling for local primary schools, library visits, and a writing competition.

Read more of Mr Somers' speech and the full report on students' activities in next week's Thanet Extra.

 

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