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At Chiltern Academy we have launched a vast array of reading initiatives in order to expose pupils to more challenging texts, promote a reading culture and enrich the reading experience of our pupils. There is a visible reading culture amongst staff and pupils at Chiltern Academy and there is a shared ethos to enhance literacy provision through the development of reading skills with a strong belief in the concept that reading underpins success in all areas of the curriculum and widens opportunities to access learning.  

We have an effective library at Chiltern Academy filled with a variety of fiction, non-fiction and subject specific reading materials which the children are welcome to borrow. Chiltern Academy Library provides a quiet learning space for pupils to enjoy reading the wide variety of books available, access ICT facilities and complete homework tasks or learning projects. All pupils are welcome to use the library’s facilities at lunch time, before school and after school.

Pupils in KS3 have timetabled library lessons as part of their English study. Evidence suggests that reading for a minimum of 20 minutes per day can significantly improve a child’s school outcomes. To support this, pupils in KS3 take part in the Accelerated Reader programme which helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice and progress. This allows us to provide personalised reading support for our students.

All pupils are required to read at home every day and complete a weekly reading log to showcase their reading. We also have opportunities for reading during the school day through our DEAR time (Drop Everything and Read) and our Reading Form Time Book Club twice per week.

We are so lucky to have a real-life published author in our midst! Ian Backhouse, one of our newer members of
staff, has secured a three-book deal for his horror literature. His first book, ‘Beneath The Dark’ is available on Amazon
and in all major bookshops from March 29th. We couldn’t pass up this chance to find out more about how the process
works from idea to published works and what inspires him to create.


 Mr. Backhouse

1.  What inspired you to become a writer?

It's really who - for as long as I can remember, I've loved ghost stories, and the supernatural. I discovered M R James at a young age, and loved the subtle, slow dread that built in all his stories - ending in something terrifying. Later in my teens I became a massive James Herbert fan and took a lot of inspiration from him. He wrote in a similar way, leading the reader into a false sense of security, then hitting them with the 'big event' as it were. I'm very proud to have been described by my publishers as the 'new James Herbert', and they had no idea he was my hero. So, I want to ensure I carry that torch for him in my own work.

2.  Where do you get the ideas for your stories from?

If I'm actively looking for a plot for the next book, I tend to think about accepted theories amongst the more scientific paranormal research and then come up with a completely different take on it or take it apart and reconstruct such a theory to give it a totally different direction or outcome. The most important thing for me is staying well away from the tired old story lines, and always coming up with something that has never been done before. Which is always hard
work, but I get there in the end. I want the reader to be taken somewhere they have never gone before and have them scared out of their wits along the way! On the other hand, sometimes, odd ideas just come into my head, often as an off shoot of something quite benign I might have been thinking about. I then note it down and see if it can go anywhere. Again, that can take a lot of work, ensuring everything sits right, with a strong beginning middle and end.

3. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would hope by then, I will have around at least eight novels out. Looking at what's already happening to my debut book before it's even out - being considered for film and TV, interview requests from people like NetGalley , a flow of 5 star reviews on Goodreads and NetGalley, Mart Gatiss asking to read a copy (He is also a massive fan of M R James) with a view to championing it, and pre order sales going much better than I expected - I hope that this curve will continue, more so with each book. If that does happen (but there is no guarantee), I hope I'll become a UK household name in terms of Horror writing and do the late great James Herbert proud.

4. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 Simple - never, ever stop writing, and never, ever give up. I never expected to begin my writing career at my age, but that's because many years ago, a professional author gave me exactly the same advice.


Ian Backhouse, has his debut novel being launched in all major UK book shops and Amazon on March 29th!



Currently being considered for Film & TV already by actor/director/writer, Mark Gatiss ( Dr. Who, Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Poirot, League of Gentlemen )