Swindon school ignites love of reading with new library space

By Jessica Durston - 27 June 2022

  • Adults L-R George Croxford, Rachel Delahaye, Claire Sexton & Hilary MacMeekin and Year 6 School Librarians

    Adults L-R George Croxford, Rachel Delahaye, Claire Sexton & Hilary MacMeekin and Year 6 School Librarians

Noremarsh Junior School have officially opened their new library with help from Children’s author Rachel Delahaye and CEO of Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust, George Croxford.

Author Rachel Delahaye with year 6 librarians

The school staff have been working hard over the past six months to create an inviting, inspiring space for children to come and enjoy.

Staff decided the school's ICT room would make the perfect space to relocate from the mobile that has been its home for many years. 

Talking about the old library, Head teacher Hilary MacMeekin said: “When I arrived, I don’t think our library facilitated a love of reading, it was just a space that held books.”

Hilary is confident the new library will be more than book storage.

She added: “What we’ve worked really hard to achieve is creating a space that doesn’t feel like a school room, it feels like a special place to be, a place where reading is celebrated, the books are beautiful, but the room is a lovely space to be in to be with books.”  

Author Rachel Delahaye was given the honour of officially opening the library and delivered a speech to staff and the group of Year 6 librarians present saying: “The thing about libraries is they look like shops but they’re actually ships which will sail you anywhere you want to go.”

With some of the children looking a little confused she continued: “You can sail to the past by reading historical fiction, you can travel to the present, the future, a library can take you anywhere.” 

The Noremarsh pupils were then tasked with giving Rachel a tour of the many new features of the space. 

The Librarians were said to have been instrumental in setting up the new library.

Reading Lead and Year 6 Teacher, Claire Sexton, explained: “I’m really proud of them because there was so much to do. We had to stamp and label every book, build all the bookcases and transport all the books to their new home. A massive job and they did it voluntarily.” 

The project, overseen by Claire, was given a huge boost when it received a £5000 grant from The Foyle Foundation in February. 

Claire added: “I described the state of our old library and how I was passionate about prioritising reading within the school. We were really excited to receive the grant as it meant we could start planning the move.” 

Claire was keen to support local businesses with the grant and worked with local bookstore ‘Moonrakers’ to source all the new books.

She said: “We ordered a good mixture, from light reads to heavy duty series, fiction and non-fiction, monthly magazines, as well as a huge amount of topic books for each class. The grant also helped furnishing the library, “We were able to buy sofas, beanbags, rugs and display stands. 

“We were also very lucky to also receive a fantastic donation of £150 from our local Opticians Haine & Smith, which we dedicated to buying graphic novels which are of particular interest to Years 5 and 6.” 

The library has also been decorated throughout to reflect a love of reading.

Claire said: “Graphic designer, Amy Ashworth, agreed to come in and draw a huge mural. She merged school topics with famous book characters and has also painted famous quotes on the walls.”   

Adorning the walls are photos of every child with their favourite book.

Claire added: “This is to show even if they feel the library is not for them, it demonstrates there’s a place for everyone in here.” 

With a new Accelerated Readers Programme designed to provide each child with an individualised and interactive reading experience set to start in the new school year, and a new award scheme to celebrate Reader of the Week for every class, the library is shaping up to become the heart of the school.

Staff say with the Year 6 librarians being so passionate about keeping the library a useable space and encouraging younger pupils with their own schemes, the school looks set to achieve its goal. 

Claire knows the difference the new library will make to the school. She said: “I think the books that have come in are really tempting and motivating and The Accelerated Reading Programme will encourage children to read independently and more importantly at their own pace and level.” 

Hilary MacMeekin said: “We are going to capture their interest and hopefully we will have children who leave us absolutely loving reading like so many of our teachers do.” 

George Croxford CEO of RWBATrust said: “The student librarians led by Claire Sexton have done a superb job and the Headteacher’s love of literacy just shone through. As a great leader told me many years ago ‘Today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders!"

Noremarsh Junior School is part of Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust. More about the school can be found on its website at www.noremarsh.wilts.sch.uk 

Rachel Delahaye is a children’s author from Bath. Her latest book is a dystopian upper middle grade eco-thriller ‘The Day of the Whale’. Members of the public can visit www.racheldelahaye.com for more information. 

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