Can author visits give under-pressure school budgets a fairytale ending?

School budgets are under more pressure than ever. The impact of staff strikes and annual budget cuts were compounded even further in late 2023 by an admission from the Department for Education that a calculation error would mean £370m less funding was available in 2024/25 than previously advised.
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Against this backdrop, schools have some tough choices to make, and opportunities to run ‘value add’ activities, such as pupil enrichment, are bound to suffer.

This is obvious throughout the teaching profession, with Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, saying in the past week that government needed to boost funding levels to enable “schools to provide enriching extra-curricular activities”.

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Whilst the traditional view of an enrichment activity may have been a visit to a local museum, or a historical re-enactment, the value that an author visit can bring to a school should be re-appraised.

Tell us your stories.Tell us your stories.
Tell us your stories.

Many authors will provide stimulating and engaging sessions on their chosen topic, often bringing props and sharing unpublished insight into their stories. Despite research showing that author visits to schools were down six per cent from 2019 levels, the same study found that a strong improvement was seen in pupils enjoying reading and writing in their free time after experiencing an author visit, compared to those who hadn’t.

Author visits don’t have to be a luxury for schools to consider. There are estimated to be over 80,000 authors in the UK, with many offering both in-person and virtual visits to schools.

The latter is a particularly cost-effective way for schools to provide an enrichment experience, as travel costs don’t need to be met, and technology in schools has vastly improved since the pandemic to support an enhanced multimedia experience.

With World Book Day around the corner, surely now is the right time to book an author visit to inspire a new generation of pupils.