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Children working in primary school library

Case Study: Roger Ascham Primary School

Mixed intake community school
Over 400 pupils aged from 3 to 11 years
Pupils from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds
Above-average number of pupils who have learning difficulties

In 2009 the school received an outstanding Ofsted report: “The Head Teacher, Matt Hanks and the staff of the school are passionate and focused and believe ‘it can happen’ no matter who you are.”

The school values reading as an essential element of the curriculum and Matt was keen to provide a high-quality and ‘fit-for-purpose’, dedicated library resource for his students.

The school library was in a run-down mobile classroom used more as an additional teaching area than a library. The school operated a lending library but membership was limited and the room itself was hidden away and uninspiring. Books in the classrooms were stored in old racks and kinderboxes. The school knew that displaying books in such a tired and uninspiring way was sending the wrong message to its children about the way it valued reading.

Funds became available following a recent surge in pupil numbers and renovations and reorganisation meant an existing classroom became available to use as a library.

The brief

Head Teacher, Matt Hanks, asked Opening the Book:

  • To create a vibrant space which students would want to visit
  • To create reading areas within the library where students would feel comfortable spending time
  • To present books in a practical but also an appealing way
  • To create a space that could be used for project work and classroom visits as well as to encourage free access for pupils during break times.

The process

Working with the Head, the BookSpace team identified the number of books needed in the library and the classrooms before looking at the split between fiction, non-fiction and picturebooks (the school’s nursery children would also be using the library so provision needed to be made for younger pupils too).

BookSpace 1210 was chosen as this height accommodates 3 or 4 shelves and is the right height for children aged 5-11 years. The classroom had a number of windows, so this height was perfect as it could be positioned below the windows to ensure no light was blocked out.

Instead of designing the new space with shelving around the perimeter, we used the shelving to create snug little spaces for reading and avoid the problems of radiators and doorways.

As well as fiction and non-fiction shelves, the shelving was interspersed with a Playboard, a Displayboard and a Table Shelf. This meant pupils could use the space to interact with the books and display reviews and work relating to books.

A combination of blue and green shelving was used to tone with existing tiles and walls. Blue shelving was used to create a fiction area inside the archway and green shelving was used for non-fiction.

As a final touch a Picturebook Tunnel and a Reading Den were added to the space to provide further play elements. The Picturebook Tunnel is lined with mirror and the Reading Den provides an additional cosy space for pupils to curl up with their books.

The results

School boys and girls reading in library

Boy reading book in library


The space before library was redesigned


Children enjoying their new library space

School girl using library display board