Survey by Bookmark charity of Birmingham and Lincolnshire primary schools reveal 10 per cent have no library and more than two thirds had no access to a public library :: NEWS

Survey by Bookmark charity of Birmingham and Lincolnshire primary schools reveal 10 per cent have no library and more than two thirds had no access to a public library

12 May 2022 Share

Bookmark, a literacy charity that provides volunteer-led reading support for children, has launched a campaign to boost literacy levels amongst disadvantaged pupils in primary schools. Two regions – Birmingham and Lincolnshire - both identified with high literacy needs, have been selected for the first phase of the campaign to receive books and resources worth £2000.   

When Bookmark asked teachers in these two regions about their books and library resources they found that:

  • 10% of schools in Birmingham and nearly 9% in Lincolnshire had no library at all 
  • 30% of those in Birmingham with a library and 34% in Lincolnshire had less than 400 books and an average of 14% in both areas had less than 100 books
  • The quality, variety and diversity of resources was rated by teachers at just 4 out of a maximum of 10 
  • Around 77% of pupils had no access to a public library  

Around 200 schools in these regions are being sent Bookmark’s colourful new Your Story Corner pack as a free gift. Each pack contains:

  • 200 new, high-quality books for children aged four to nine (e.g. The Marvellous Granny Jinks and me by Serena Holly)  
  • 8 weeks of free access to the ChatterStars vocabulary development app for children  
  • An annual subscription to Bookmark’s children’s magazine – ‘The Story Corner’ 
  • Posters, postcards, worksheets, and a certificate to help encourage reading for pleasure 
  • Entry to the Your Story Corner competition inviting children to write a book review.  

In addition, teachers will have access to Bookmark’s Reading for Pleasure teacher’s  group on a professional networking site and 12 months free membership subscription to The National Literacy Trust.  

The two regions have been chosen because of their high levels of deprivation and poor standards of literacy. In Birmingham half of wards in the city rank in the top 10 per cent of regions with literacy needs. And Lincolnshire has a below average percentage of children reaching the expected standard in reading for their age. (Data from The National Literacy Trust).   

Woodgate School in Birmingham is one of the first schools to receive Your Story Corner packs which were distributed at the end of April. More than half the pupils are eligible for pupil premium funding. On starting school in September 2020 nearly two thirds did not have the appropriate language development for their age and more than eight in ten did not reach the expected standard in reading.  

Samantha Peake, senior teacher at Woodgate School said:  “We have been trying to diversify the books in our library so that all children feel represented in the texts that they’re reading. But this year we have no budget for extra books as we have used up all our English budget on resources for a new government-based phonics scheme. These Bookmark books, which we could never have afforded to buy ourselves, will make a huge difference. The children were very excited to see characters from their ethnic background and religion. The books will be used to help children dealing with difficult family lives to think about and discuss their problems. Our aim is to create a whole school reading culture where children are motivated and more likely to read for pleasure.”   

The new books will be used as part of the school’s religious and PHSE (personal, social health and economic) education, as well as in the English curriculum. The school has also been building book sheds in the playground and incentivising reading at home.   

Sharon Pindar, founder and Chair of Bookmark said: “My mother couldn’t read so I learnt first-hand the impact it can have on a person’s life. Struggling with reading can make it difficult to apply for university, complete job applications or access important health information. We were already concerned about the huge numbers of children who were struggling with their reading. But Covid-19 has made the situation much worse and had a devastating impact on their education. One in four children had no schooling or tutoring at all during lockdown, and school closures are estimated to have undone 10 years of progress in narrowing the attainment gap for disadvantaged children. At Bookmark we have a simple mission: we want every child to read. We hope this initiative will make a huge difference to children in the greatest need of support”. 

Applications for Your Story Corner packs have now closed. However, Bookmark will be launching a Reading for Pleasure grant in the new academic year starting in September 2022. Schools should register their interest here.  

The charity is also looking for more volunteers to become reading supporters so they can reach more children. To apply click here