29 July 2022 Share
Heybrook Primary and Nursery School reception teacher, David Battersby, spoke to us about opening a new library in his school.
Our school is a large,
three-form entry, primary school in the centre of Rochdale. As you might expect
our mostly EAL pupils struggle with a curriculum which is focused on high
expectations put upon children’s written English and their understanding of
English in texts. Last year I conducted a survey of our children to see what
books they had at home. Most of the children I spoke to did not have books at
home; visit a local library; or have ever seen their parents read at home.
The lack of opportunities given to our children to read at home meant their only experience with books was class based, and while academic reading is a key focus for us, we appreciate that children only become good readers if they read for pleasure at home. Space is always tight at our school, with so many children in an old building, but a few years ago we had a stroke of luck when an old classroom became available. My headteacher approached me to use the space to create a school library, a space where we could inspire our children to be lifelong readers. My guiding principle when choosing books was to broaden our children’s experiences through a diverse range of literature, which would also reflect the diversity at our school.
We have really tried to create an inviting and engaging space, catering for all our children from Nursery to Year 6. We want it to be inviting and ensure our space is open with plenty of seating. I have organized our books so that we have clear areas catering to the different key stages, including a range of books linked to their various topics to encourage reading around a subject. I have also been careful to include books which are more catered to our children’s interests such as graphic novels and gaming books.
We have tried to make our space engaging and for this I have prioritized a see of shared ownership between staff and pupils. Our lovely wall artwork was painted by two particularly talented members of staff, who worked with the pupils on which characters they wanted to see on the walls.
The library is organized by some committed Year 6 librarians, who even run their own writing competitions: the winners having their work available in the library for other children to read. We have also organized competitions around designing bookmarks and writing reviews which have all contributed to a sense of enthusiasm around the library.
Given the size of our school it was a bit of a logistical nightmare to ensure all classes managed to get in the library. We have been able to come up with a timetable to make sure that all children get a chance to visit the library every two weeks, whilst also providing some free time for classes to be able to do research lessons.
With the many and broad needs of our children it is also vital that our library can be used by other groups and there are allotted times for our school counsellor and the family learning service.