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How to NOT go to school: Teacher’s COVID-19 advice book for children becomes global hit

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 20 APRIL

A teacher’s book helping children understand life during lockdown has become an unexpected global hit, read by thousands of families around the world.

School of Education and Social Work

Birmingham City University

Birmingham City University graduate Mike Forde has published the book titled How to NOT go to school, which navigates issues that children might be experiencing like missing friends and feeling cooped up during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Mike, a PGCE graduate from the University, currently teaches pupils in years three and four at Ingleton Primary School in the Yorkshire Dales.

He originally aimed the book at pupils he teaches, and included their class mascot PomPom the Ninja in the story.

However, the book’s popularity soared and he has since made it available to download for free with around 2,000 people having their very own copies.

The story follows a character of Parsley Mimblewood who never goes to school. Instead, animal lover Parsley spends her time taking care of three goats, three guinea pigs, two dogs, a cat and a stick insect, whilst solving mysteries with Detective Dracula.

At the end of each chapter, there are questions to encourage children to discuss these issues with their family.

The book’s front cover was illustrated by Sarah Beswick - a kind stranger who made contact through Facebook and offered to help.

Mike Forde said: “The children in my class are thoughtful and hard-working and resilient but the school shutdown was an enormous upheaval in their lives.

“They were going to be separated from their friends and relatives and their daily routines totally upended. I also know a lot of parents who were concerned about children's mental health and the impact of stress and worry at this time.

“I've been totally blown away by how far that little book has gone. It started off as a fun little story for the 28 children in my class and now there's families reading it across the country and as far away as New Zealand.”

How to NOT go to school can be downloaded from the dedicated website.

Find out more about training to teach at Birmingham City University.

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