Classroom reading corner

Case Study: Belton Lane Primary

Our old book corners needed replacing but we didn’t want to simply update them; we wanted to give the children a real treat – something which would change their attitudes to reading and hopefully get them reading for life

In February 2012, Belton Lane Primary School embarked on an ambitious project. Some would say too ambitious, given that the school had only recently come out of special measures and still had many challenges ahead.

However Headteacher, Mr Mason and Deputy Head, Mr Grossmith were determined to teach pupils at the 192 intake school about the fun of reading.

A ‘reading audit’ conducted amongst pupils and parents at the start of the project provided grim statistics. Almost every pupil in the school had many more computer games than books in their home and they were certainly far more likely to spend their pocket money on games not books. Few pupils could name a favourite author, in part down to a lack of access to books in their home but also in the school. A Surestart Library which had been in operation next to the school had quickly closed due to a lack of use and of the school had few books of any quality to offer the children.

Designing the new space

BookSpace was asked to come up with several designs for the space, each to incorporate the Reading Hideaway as well as to provide plenty of spots for children to have some quiet reading time. Jamie had some ideas of how he could see the space working and the year 5 children also had lots of suggestions. BookSpace took these ideas on board and provided the team with a few different options for the space including some 3D plans so that they could be presented to the board of governors.

BookSpace were keen to provide Belton Lane with a space which worked for all ages from KS1 to KS2. Each of the options incorporated a small area accessed through a little archway for younger pupils which included soft seating and shelving specifically designed to display picturebooks. In the space for older children, different shelving was used for fiction and non-fiction books to ensure that they were displayed in the best way and the shelves were interspersed with Display Frames where children can display artefacts relating to topic work, a study table, plenty of soft seating and of course the Reading Hideaway! The school team were really pleased with the designs and decided to look at adding some further shelving to another area of the school to display reading schemes and more non-fiction stock. After just a few weeks, the plans were signed off and a date had been set to install the new library.

The transformation

Just 8 weeks after first contacting BookSpace, Belton Lane Primary School were watching their new library being installed. “The onsite team were excellent” says Mr Mason. “We were very impressed with their professionalism and courtesy, even arriving before the pupils did on the second day to minimise disruption for us”.

The Year 5 pupils who had been involved in the whole project were eager to start stocking their new space. The day after BookSpace library had been installed the team were straight into the space, unpacking boxes of books and enjoying displaying the books in their new home! And the enjoyment hasn’t stopped since it seems.

The Results

We asked Belton Lane’s pupils what they thought of their new space. We think their comments speak for themselves…

Amazing. The best library I’ve ever seen
It makes you want to read everything in here
It’s like magical now
I used to read 1 book a year. In the last month, I’ve read about 15
The books beckon you in
I want to snuggle up, next to a book shelf and read
It’s like loads of books…which one shall I pick?
It’s quiet. You can come and sit down and read to yourself

But it’s not just the pupils who are happy. The staff, governors and even future parents are all delighted with the new reading space.

“The library calms the children down” Headteacher, Mr Mason says. “We haven’t imposed this; the space just naturally brings a calmness to the children which they themselves are relishing.

The space has provided a much-needed resource for us. We are able to use it to back up the hard work our teachers are doing in the classroom in trying to change pupils’ attitudes to reading and it’s paying off. Many of the children are reading far more than they were a few months ago. Most can name several favourite authors if you ask them and the new reading space has a big part to play. It’s made reading and books fun in their eyes.”

The new space is now a showpiece for Mr Mason and his team, particularly for prospective new parents. The school is now nearly at capacity – something that he could only dream of when he first took over the school a few years ago.

“It’s definitely a deciding factor for new parent’s thinking of sending their children to Belton Lane” he says. “We’re really pleased with everything and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend BookSpace to any other school thinking of creating a new reading space”.

Kicking starting the project

The staff weren’t surprised by the results of the audit but it did prompt them to develop plans to address the problem. A key element was the need for a dedicated reading space. Jamie Grossmith brought together a team of Year 5 pupils to help manage the process, an unused classroom was earmarked for the new space and the team set about looking for a company to help them achieve their dreams.

Headteacher, Mr Mason had seen The Reading Hideaway from BookSpace and knew it would provide the ‘wow factor’ the pupils desperately needed to draw them into the space and begin to see books and reading as fun.

Boys reading books

Boys reading in library

Child reading in school library

The onsite team were excellent. We were very impressed with their professionalism and courtesy, even arriving before the pupils did on the second day to minimise disruption for us.

Girls reading books

New school library