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Case Study: Purley Oaks Primary

We’re really pleased with our new reading space and more importantly so are the children

Purley Oaks Primary School in Croyden is a 3-form intake school with an above-average number of pupils with English as a second language.

The school is fortunate to have a positive reading culture and according to Ofsted ‘almost all pupils read every day and read widely for pleasure’. However, the Deputy Head teacher, Mr Griffin was keen to maintain this status and improve on it further. His main concern was the lack of a dedicated reading space in the school. Books were kept in classrooms and there was no library facility which the whole school could use for both reading and studying.

“Our thinking was that reading is at the heart of learning. We wanted to create an inviting space which focused on reading for pleasure and which encouraged independent reading” says Mr Griffin.

An old classroom which had been used as a Literacy Centre for the community was about to become available and Mr Griffin saw the opportunity to create a much needed reading space for the school.

BookSpace was asked to put together some ideas for the new space. The key requirement was to ensure that it was appealing for children. Mr Griffin and Mrs Wills, the school librarian, were attracted to BookSpace because of their creative approach – they had seen examples of how BookSpace had created zones for fiction, non-fiction and KS1 children in other school libraries and felt that would really work in their space.

“I found BookSpace on Google along with some other companies and really liked the colours used on the shelving and the layouts that BookSpace had created for other schools and I loved the arch – the arch was a definite ‘must-have’!’ says Mrs Wills. “When Helen from BookSpace came to visit us I felt she understood exactly what we were trying to achieve. She suggested creating a separate area for KS1 using lower shelving and the arch and then for KS2 she suggested using some shelves in the centre of the room at an angle to create a circular space. I thought this was a really clever idea. It made use of the central floor space and created a little zone. We’ve dropped soft seating into this area and pupils love to hang out here, using the laptops or reading. It really works for us”.

BookSpace presented Mr Griffin and Mrs Wills with three plans and then worked with them to refine them. As well as the arch, the team at Purley Oaks were keen to use other feature pieces to add interest to the space. A Feature Frame, Bucket Seats and Reading Nooks were all added to create that all inviting space.

Children enjoying primary school library

When Helen from BookSpace came to visit us I felt she understood exactly what we were trying to achieve.
Children browsing school library shelving

Mr Griffin’s vision for the new library extended to non-fiction reading too. “We are fortunate to have a really good attitude towards reading in our school and we wanted to ensure the new library included enough space for non-fiction as well as fiction. We know non-fiction is often a way to engage boys so wanted to create a space that enabled our children to access non-fiction books too. BookSpace’s shelving is great as they have shelves specifically for non-fiction which makes the books look much better. They also suggested creating a study zone within the space with tables and chairs which we thought was a good idea. We have a whiteboard which is often used with smaller groups, so the study tables are often used in these sessions. We also have laptops which the children can use in the library. The study tables are perfect for this as they can use the laptops at the table for project work. We made sure we included plenty of soft seating around the library as well though, as some children prefer to curl up with their laptop or book. As our shelving was green we chose purple & crimson which sounds a bit gaudy but really works!”

The new library opened in March 2014. Currently the timetable allows for each year to access the space on a regular basis with younger children visiting with a TA and older children visiting independently. Plans are underway to launch a reading based before/after-school club and for some lunchtime clubs to use the space for languages and board games etc.

“We’re really pleased with our new reading space and more importantly so are the children” says Mrs Wills. “They love coming to the library – it’s one of the highlights of their week and it’s definitely put reading up there as one of the more exciting aspects of school. Hopefully we’ll create readers for life with the help of our new space”.

School girl looking at book on library shelving

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