Seventeen primary schools in the London Borough of Southwark have opened improved school libraries and enhanced reading spaces as part of the Chase Rewarding Futures school libraries programme. The initiative aims to improve access to literacy resources by transforming underused reading spaces into places for inspiration and creativity. The commitment from Chase is in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, and supported by Penguin Random House UK.
Three primary schools have benefitted from flagship libraries which include a complete transformation of their current reading space, and a further 14 primary schools have received enhanced reading zones including modular furniture and a diverse selection of books. This brings the total number of libraries transformed in London (during the two year programme) to 47 schools, and 18,289 children now have access to new library spaces, a diverse range of books and digital resources so children can access stories in a way that’s right for them.
Beyond the reading space transformations, teachers at the schools will benefit from access to bespoke training to support the development of a strong reading culture, and skills that will enable them to maximise the reading spaces as hubs for imagination and creativity. Families and carers of children at the schools will receive support and advice on how to encourage their children with reading outside the classroom, as well as invitations to special community and school literacy events including author readings.
Award-winning authors open Peckham school library
Last week, children at St James the Great Primary School enjoyed a special event to mark the opening of their new library. Award-winning broadcaster, journalist and author, Chris Smith, shared his journey and the writing processes he has adopted, and Tracey Corderoy hosted a draw-along workshop and interactive reading of her work. To help the schools prepare for their library openings, 23 Chase colleagues volunteered at nine participating schools to support teachers stocking their new spaces with 500 books donated by Penguin Random House UK.
Sally Delaney, Senior Teacher at St James the Great Primary School, commented: "I have had many great experiences in my long career in teaching but the whole project of the library refurbishment has been very special as the children have taken ownership of this from the beginning. It has been joyful and heartwarming and I hope that this has set the children on a journey with their reading for pleasure for the rest of their lives."
Vandna Verma, Project Manager for the Libraries Team at the National Literacy Trust, said: "We know that children who develop a love of reading at primary school have better educational outcomes and a greater well-being. St James the Great Primary School was buzzing with energy and excitement today as their fantastic new school library was officially opened by some very special guests."
Sanjiv Somani, U.K. CEO at Chase, added: “It's been brilliant to see the children's excitement today as they saw their new library space and enjoyed exploring the books inside. Experiencing how engaged the children have been with the two workshops from Chris and Tracey, and the questions they've asked, shows how important it is that we keep improving access to literacy resources so children are able to be creative and let their imaginations run wild.
"We want to continue nurturing early-life reading skills through improved access to literacy resources to help inspire a love of reading - we know how this can impact their early development and future prospects."
Building on the first year of the programme, Chase Rewarding Futures is expanding its reach to seven new regions and transforming another 156 libraries to support communities with the tools and resources they need to help nurture reading skills. This year’s programme includes:
The programme builds on a tried-and-tested model pioneered by the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House UK, Puffin World of Stories, which addresses the key issues facing many underserved primary school libraries including lack of time and skills and lack of budget to buy new books.
Chase is part of the Primary School Library Alliance (PSLA) which has pledged to transform 1,000 school libraries and support up to 500,000 pupils’ attainment and wellbeing, alongside the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House UK. In May 2023, Her Majesty Queen Camilla opened the 500th library transformed as part of the PSLA.