Teagues Bridge Primary School is based on Telford, West Midlands and caters for boys and girls aged 4–11. Head Teacher, Mrs Abdulla is an enthusiastic and focused head with a particular passion for books and reading. Her belief is that all pupils should leave Teagues Bridge reading confidently and her latest initiative is a brand new forest-themed library which has got pupils buzzing with excitement.
The school currently caters for more than 200 pupils, many of whom don’t have access to books outside of the school. With the catchment area for the school changing, it’s likely that this number will increase so the school is continually looking for ways to address this and ensure that all pupils become confident readers during their time at Teagues Bridge.
“When I came to this school 8 years ago, I brought with me, a small collection of fiction books and picturebooks and displayed them in my office” says Mrs Abdulla. “Any child that came to see me was encouraged to choose a book and take it away with them. Very quickly the word spread and I often found a queue of children waiting to have their moment to choose a book!” This led to the creation of a small library space which was open to all year groups. “The children loved it initially” says Mrs Abdulla “we installed Junior Librarian and watched as the issue rates grew and grew. However, as the pupils grew more confident in their reading and choosing, they naturally wanted more. More books, more space and certainly more time in the space to browse and enjoy the books and it just wasn’t possible with the small space we had” explains Mrs Abdulla.
When plans for a new extension to the school were unveiled, they were keen that it should include a new library. BookSpace was asked to visit the school and to draw up designs for the new space. The brief was to provide a relaxing environment with plenty of room to sit or even lie down and read as well as tables for children to work at. The shelving needed to be flexible enough to accommodate everything from big books and picturebooks for younger children though to fiction and non-fiction for KS2. But above all, the space needed to create a sense of ‘awe and wonder’, a sense of intrigue amongst pupils.
BookSpace provided Teagues Bridge Primary with 3 plans. Each was different but one stood out from the rest for Mrs Abdulla. The plan that appealed had a forest theme running throughout. Tree-shaped desks, a vine-covered Hideyhole , tree-shaped panels in the book stacks and tree wall stickers with interchangeable seasonal foliage. The school was keen to involve pupils in the decisions for the new library and so pupils fed back on the design and provided instructions for tweaking it where required. “We were all very drawn to the forest theme” says Mrs Abdulla. “The children in particular loved it and for us it was important that the pupils had a say. BookSpace did a fantastic job of listening to what the children wanted and when it came to making the amendments to the designs there was no real hardship on our part – BookSpace made the whole process incredibly easy. We can’t thank the team that designed it enough!”
The new library was installed over the school holidays and shortly afterwards new book stock started arriving. The school has always been keen to involve pupils in choosing which books to order. Each classroom has a book corner which changes with the class topic and pupils are encouraged to suggest books for these spaces so when the new library was built pupils were encouraged to do the same. “Involving pupils in this way has meant that they are already taking ownership of the new space” says Mrs Abdulla. “They love the new library and are always asking if they can we go to the library.
Every child has a library card and the plan is to open the library every lunchtime for children to access freely. We will also be running storytime sessions and after-school Chatterbooks sessions in there each week as well as encouraging both pupils and teachers to use the laptops for research.
The staff and the governors of the school are thrilled with the new space. The forest theme has been designed and manufactured to the highest quality with much attention to detail but the theme hasn’t overwhelmed the books. It creates the environment we were looking for – one which intrigues the children, draws them in and then displays the books in a way which makes them want to pick them up. The space also gives the children plenty of areas to sit or lie down and relax which is perfect – just what we wanted”.
Quotes from children:
“You can have all your friends in it”
“It feels calm and relaxing”
“It’s not a proper classroom. It’s like a relaxing room to sit and read a really good book”
“It was very relaxing sitting in the little tunnels and it looks so fantastic!”
“The colours make me feel like I’m in the wood”
“When you look at the tables, you can write a story from it”