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  • Writer's pictureMr D

Dear Diary,

Last year, I looked into a range of possible 'Home/School Reading Diaries' for children in school. Ours was internally produced and in need of a revamp but there simply wasn't the budget to spend thousands of pounds on a company to do it for us, so I decided to make my own!

From local book binders, online copy companies and specialist school diary vendors, the range in cost for a single diary was somewhere between £2.50 and £4. I really wanted to see if I could get a good quality diary for less, so set about creating my own PDF for each year group and then researched everywhere and anywhere to see who could make a quality product at the cheapest price.

In the end, I opted for They sent me free samples each time I made an edit and their customer service was friendly and efficient. In the end I managed to get 370 diaries for £556 (this included packaging and shipping) so a total cost of £1.50 per diary. We then asked parents for a £1 voluntary donation towards the diary and covered half the costs. Our old, internally photocopied diaries had worked out the same in cost and the diary had been dramatically improved! The best thing about them though, is they were personalised to our school's needs and it was far more robust than the previous stapled A5 booklet.

Each year group had different colour, durable outside covers, they were metal wire bound and filled with exactly what we wanted inside and more. Being a fan of knowledge organisers, I added the Science Knowledge Organisers to each year group to coincide with all the other information inside which included the following:

*Front and back covers, *Reading journal split into individual days *Weekly timetable and space for parent/teacher communication, *Weekly self-assessment faces

*spaces for teacher/parent signatures and notes, *School information pages, *Year 3-6 year group expectations in writing, reading and maths, *Illustrated and informative parent, teacher and child school contracts, *Handwriting expectations *Year 3/4 spelling bank and patterns, *Year 5/6 spelling bank and patterns, *Parent guide to support children with reading, *Numbers, seasons, days and months of the year, 2D and 3D shapes, *Number square and multiplication grid, *Self-assessment faces for responsive teaching, *UK, European and world maps, *E-safety guide, *Frank and Childline numbers page to promote safeguarding.

This is all good and well, but it is only when diaries are used consistently by parents, children and adults alike, you see their success. The real challenge is now trying to get the best from them. So far, we have had some wonderful comments. Parents and governors are keen for me to produce a KS1 diary for next year and so it's on with the planning!

I'm now considering adding the Writer's Toolkit to turn the diary into both a reading journal and a more extensive knowledge organiser. We will also consider adding history and geography knowledge organisers for next year. Tweaks to the design are easy and we have now added our own school's font and a few new pages too.

Mr D

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