Classroom reading corner

Case Study: Oliver Goldsmith 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

Oliver Goldsmith is a culturally diverse primary school based in Peckham, South London.

With over 500 pupils, it caters for a range of different reading abilities. A little over 2 years ago, Head Teacher, Mrs Asumadu, joined the school. Her vision was clear – she wanted to improve the reading culture in the school and change attitudes to reading amongst her pupils.

The school was lucky enough to have a library as well as reading corners in each classroom, however, in many ways these resources were a bit out dated. The classroom corners were a particular concern to Mrs Asumadu. They were old, worn and inadequate for the school’s needs today. Some corners looked tired and may have discouraged children from picking up the books.

Rose Moses, Acting Assistant Headteacher and KS2 Literacy Co-ordinator and Louise Roberts, KS1 Literacy Coordinator were tasked with coordinating the overhaul of the classroom corners and reinvigorating them over the Summer holidays in preparation for the new academic year.

“We wanted to create book corners in each classroom that would excite children and get them to see reading as fun” says Rose. “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”.

The school contacted BookSpace after seeing the Mobile Curved Bookcases. “We really liked the look of these book shelves, particularly for the KS2 classrooms” says Rose. “We hadn’t seen anything else like them and they were exactly what we were looking for – practical, good quality but fun too!”

After a visit to Oliver Goldsmith’s school to take detailed measurements and talk in more detail about their requirements, the BookSpace Design team set to work. The school wanted book corners in 16 classrooms from nursery through to Year 6. “We were keen to ensure each classroom was given a corner that really worked for them” says Michelle Mills, Library Designer at BookSpace. “We wanted to make sure the shelving was the right height for the pupils in that classroom and to ensure we were making the most of the available space each time without dominating the room too much. It was like designing 16 mini libraries.”

“Each corner was designed to provide not only shelving for the books but also seating of some description and where space permitted, something which would ‘wow’ the children” says Michelle. “In classrooms where there was limited space, little Button Seats were used but where we had more room we opted to use Reading Nooks(or Splash Pods for the Foundation years) which we knew the children would enjoy. The shelving we used in each classroom was suitable for the age of the children, so for example in the reception classrooms we used 950mm high shelving and mixed it with Display Boards and Picturebook Units and in a number of larger classrooms we even managed to create a corner large enough to accommodate an Arch which makes the corner feel really special.”

With a few tweaks to the designs, the plans for the corners were soon signed off and ready for the BookSpace Installation team to fit over the Summer break. “The Installation guys were great” says Rose. “We’ve got an old Victorian building and our classrooms span 4 floors so the school isn’t the easiest to navigate but the team managed to set up all of the corners in just a few days. The whole process was very smooth and professional.

Our aim was to totally change attitudes to reading and we’re well on our way. The children are definitely drawn to the books now and are independently taking books home. We’ve even had some Year 6 boys & girls taking books outside at playtime! The difference is miles away from what we had and we’re certain it’s going to start to influence their writing too”.

School library board book display

Book display integrated into school reading chair

The children are definitely drawn to the books now and are independently taking books home.

School library seating

Before and after images of school library redesign