Spring is around the corner. And traditionally it’s the season to have a clear out.
In a busy school, finding time to sort out doesn’t come very high up our list of priorities, well at least not until the end of the academic year. However, maybe that end-of- term, ‘de-cluttered’ look is the way forward? Only last year a report from the Psychological Science journal in the States reported that a recent study looked at how classroom environment affected 24 primary aged children. They conducted three lessons in a heavily decorated classroom and three in a ‘sparse’ classroom and the results made interesting reading. The children educated in the ‘sparse’ classroom spent more time “on-task” and gained higher test scores. You can read more here. Interestingly, a school we worked with recently, Trumpington Meadows in Cambridge, has a display policy, primarily to help SEN pupils but the Head Teacher firmly believes the lack of distractions has helped all pupils achieve better results. Read their story here.
But it’s not just classrooms and corridors that deserve a spring clean. The school library is often a dumping ground for everything from old PCs to teacher’s paperwork or PE & music equipment. And we all know why. There just isn’t the space in most schools for everything we need. Pupil numbers are rising and the space to accommodate pupils isn’t. Something has to give. Yet all too often it’s the library. But doesn’t the school library deserve better? Surely we should be valuing our school libraries more. Let’s face it many schools aren’t even lucky enough to have any space they can call the library. Ofsted’s guidelines state ‘Around the school, an attractive and well-stocked library is often an indicator of effective support for pupils’ wider reading and information retrieval skills’ so surely we should be raising the status of the library and sending a strong clear message to pupils that reading is important. How can we say reading is fun and books open up a world of possible adventures when they have to scramble past boxes of school play outfits before they can even get to the books?
If you’re really serious about de-cluttering your library though, don’t forget to consider the books. So often new books are brought in but old books remain. A good weed breathes new life into a library by providing books that are left with more space. If you were ever in any doubt that turning a book face-out instead of spine-out could make any difference to children’s reading habits, try this experiment: dig out some old books (ones that haven’t been issued in a while) and display them in a prominent position face-forward. Guaranteed your pupils will make a bee-line for them. Proof that good book display does work, so give your book stock a bit of TLC, make some time for a clear out and raise the status of reading in your school this year.