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Bishop Challoner Catholic College

Inspiration Award 2014: Judges' Citations

Bishop Challoner Catholic College

Kings Heath, Birmingham

Principal: Kevin McEvoy


Finalist in the Secondary School Category, 2014

Bishop Challoner R.C. College is a highly successful, popular and oversubscribed 11 to 18 school of 1400 students (with approx. 230 in the Sixth Form) with a national reputation. Due to expansion it is fast outgrowing its site at Kings Heath, quite near to the centre of Birmingham. A school with very clear aims, one of which is to develop the desire in each pupil to progress academically, spiritually, morally, culturally, mentally and physically, it has over recent years developed an impressive reorganised and refurbished library/open learning centre (OLC) ably led by Helen Burns. The school’s Senior Leadership Team, ever conscious to raise aspiration and literacy levels, has been keen to develop an effective library that includes space for Sixth Form study, reading for pleasure and independent learning as well as for class and group work – hence their enthusiastic support for Helen and her team’s vision and drive and the recent library improvements to both provision and practice that they have made. The OLC has developed in size and effectiveness.

Centrally located, it is a large welcoming, flexible space with an adjoining Sixth Form study room (a new Sixth Form library is being considered). The attractive and eye catching entrance has a commissioned piece of art featuring faces and architecture from the past, low-level shelving and seating – both formal and more relaxed. The essence of the space is flexibility and colour with some zoning. Fiction is located towards one end and the rest resides with the English department with non-fiction in the middle and towards the entrance. The OLC also has an array of magazines, newspapers and journals. Tables can be configured into different shapes and the chairs are stackable. It has a useful teaching/learning space with a ceiling projector.

The library counter is now located near to the entrance, and the library IT is arranged along the colourful back wall, to support the wide use of netbooks by the students. Bright colours are used throughout. The dominant colour is an attractive mauve, offset by white lettering and a blue-grey carpet. Colourful mauve/white bay ends are cleverly covered with inspirational quotes from well-known authors and thinkers. The team have also invested in a dry wipe table for group/planning work that is proving popular. This is an attractive library run by an excellent team who are keen to develop its full potential to support teaching and learning across the school and who are doing some exciting and interesting work across the age groups. Their pupil volunteer helper team are an impressive bunch too.  The OLC has clearly come a long way in a short time with more plans being laid for the future. We wish it well as it inspires its students to read widely and study wisely.

Further information about the SLA School Library Inspiration Award.