Toadstool seating in a jungle themes primary school library

Case Study: Aston Community Education Trust

An integrated approach offering best value across three primary schools

Aston Community Education Trust in Sheffield and Rotherham comprises 3 primary schools and one secondary school, Aston Academy. The three primary schools, Aston Springwood, Thurcroft Junior School and Lowedges Primary School have been working together as part of the trust.

One of the founding principles of the trust is to share best practice and ensure that all schools have access to the same level of resources and support. The previous library spaces weren’t the welcoming and inspiring space Executive Principal, Eunice Newton wanted. “Literacy is a key focus for our trust, whether it’s reception children or Year 11. One of my priorities for the trust is to raise the status of reading and encourage children to develop a reading habit they will take with them long after they leave Aston CE Trust” says Eunice. “When Lowedges Primary School joined our Trust in 2014, we began to think about installing a new library in each primary school; one that would provide inspiration to the children and lay down firm foundations for reading which they would take into their secondary school years”.

BookSpace was asked to visit the three primary schools and develop some ideas for three new library spaces. The challenge for BookSpace was to bring some uniformity to what were three very different spaces. Springwood Junior Academy, with its existing library was the smallest space, Thurcroft Junior Academy only needed to cater for KS2 pupils and Lowedges was being used as a meeting room and required a total refurbishment. “We wanted to treat this as one project from start to finish rather than looking at three separate libraries. We appreciated that employing just one company to install all three libraries would offer us some degree of best value in financial terms but we were also looking for better value in terms of the thinking, the design and the coordination”.

Themed school library

The Trust was keen to look at BookSpace’s Woodland theme for all three libraries which ensured that all schools were being offered the same reading experience. Each space incorporated little toadstool seats, end-panels in the shape of trees, write-on / wipe-off tree-shaped wall stickers and vine-encased Hideyholes. Where space permitted the libraries also featured tree-shaped PC desking, woodland rugs and even archways leading into smaller more secluded spaces for children to curl up with a book.

“The whole process was seamless,” says Eunice. “I was worried we would be looking at project managing three small projects and getting caught in the detail of each school’s requirements. I was looking for a company who could take that on board and deliver in an integrated manner. BookSpace understood what we wanted straight away and project managed the whole process for us. They understood we wanted a consistent, uniform approach covering all three schools and despite each school presenting different challenges, they approached the whole refurbishment programme in a coherent way. The process was a delight not a headache!”

“The school governors are really pleased with the results,” says Eunice, “and parents visiting the schools are very impressed with our library facilities. It’s a real selling point for each of the schools now; the jewel in their crowns!”

Girl reading in primary school library
Children reading in a primary school library Themed school library with table and bookshelves