Three primary school libraries in Newport have been completely transformed, and a further nine schools have had their libraries enhanced, as part of the Chase Rewarding Futures school libraries programme which aims to put reading and access to books at the heart of each school.
The commitment from the digital bank Chase in partnership with the National Literacy Trust and supported by Penguin Random House UK, has seen areas in St Woolos Primary School, Millbrook Primary School and Somerton Primary School transformed into spaces that encourage creativity and a culture of reading for pleasure.
National Literacy Trust research has revealed that three quarters of children who say they have high levels of mental wellbeing also have positive attitudes towards reading. In comparison, of children who report low levels of mental wellbeing, fewer than half feel positively towards reading.
The flagship library transformations aim to create a positive and encouraging reading environment for children. Each flagship library benefits from 400 new books, e-readers, and audio books so children can access stories in a way that is right for them and aid their reading development. Furthermore, new furniture has been added to make the spaces relaxing and comfortable, and a bespoke mural by a local artist is included to inspire imaginations. The enhanced libraries receive a storage unit of books, an assortment of beanbags and cushions, some wall stickers, and e-readers to enrich their library offering further.
Beyond the reading space transformations, families, and carers of children at the schools will receive support and advice on how to encourage their children to read outside the classroom, as well as invitations to special community and school literacy events, including author readings.
The Newport school teachers participating in the programme also had access to three in-depth modules of E-training on Reading for Pleasure, developing library spaces, and creating a reading community. This was followed by two twilight live webinars with all the regional schools and a summer training day focusing on Parental and Community Engagement in Reading and providing a valuable networking opportunity for teachers.
Heather Vaughn, Headteacher at St Woolos Primary School, commented: “We're pleased that Chase is supporting our mission to encourage a love of reading among our students at St Woolos – the new library will provide an enjoyable, inspiring environment for children to unleash their imagination. Chase's support will also equip parents and guardians with tools to encourage a love of reading at home and we hope this will lead to a positive impact on children's lives and their future opportunities."
Cathy Geary, Newport Project Manager, National Literacy Trust continued: “At the National Literacy Trust, we know how important enhanced library spaces are in helping embed a positive reading culture. It has been a pleasure to work with Chase to help provide high quality resources and activities for these schools in Newport, and it’s wonderful to witness the enthusiasm and impact this has had on pupils and staff.”
Deborah Keay, Chief Marketing Officer of Chase in the UK, added: “We’re proud of the work we’re doing with the National Literacy Trust at schools in underserved communities across Great Britain. Through the initiative, we’ve been able to improve access to reading materials and create new opportunities for children that we hope will inspire a lifelong love of reading. We know that developing early-stage reading skills positively impacts children’s prospects, and research has shown how important reading is for a child’s mental wellbeing. Our aim is to help thousands of children up and down the country to engage with reading and literacy on a deeper level.”
The Chase rewarding Futures school library programme launched in December 2021, is transforming 150 primary school libraries across Great Britain, 12 of which are in Newport. Chase’s initial £1m commitment to children’s literacy will improve access to books and reading materials, reaching around 35,000 children in underserved communities across seven key areas: Dundee, Doncaster, Newport, Suffolk, London, Nottingham, and Birmingham.