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Transformative impact of ‘life-changing library’ on Benwick School prompts renewed call for £100m annual primary school library funding



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A new library at a Fenland school has seen an increase in a love of reading according a report published this week.

Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell has revealed the transformative impact on the pilot primary schools, which include Benwick School, taking part in her ‘Life-changing Libraries’ initiative with an increase in a love of reading, motivation towards learning, well-being and feelings of self-worth.

The key findings in the ‘Life-changing Libraries’ report describe a transformation in attitudes towards reading, with an enthusiasm and passion for books ignited amongst the students of the six pilot schools and a considerable uptake in the time spent engaged in reading for pleasure both at school and at home.

Cressida Cowell pictured with Paige Hilliard and Mia Hilliard when the library was opened.
Cressida Cowell pictured with Paige Hilliard and Mia Hilliard when the library was opened.

The report published as Cressida comes to the end of her tenure as the Children's Laureate has also prompted her to renew her calls on the Prime Minister for £100

Teachers have reported increased attention, engagement and motivation to learn amongst pupils in the classroom, alongside a significant improvement in both children and staff wellbeing, as well as a boosted sense of pride, confidence and self-worth.

Benwick School has reported an increased enthusiasm for children reading regularly and widely, with students queuing up to be the first into their newly renovated library.

Head teacher Clare Talbot has been delighted with the success of the new library at Benwick School.
Head teacher Clare Talbot has been delighted with the success of the new library at Benwick School.

Previously disengaged boys who ‘preferred football to books’ have begun to change their attitudes, with the wealth of new books offering characters they can relate to and storylines which reflect their lives and interests.

“Everyone is far more engaged. I’ve promoted a reading for pleasure ethos and everyone is on board and that’s wonderful,” said the school's English lead.

For children at Benwick with additional needs, the library has become a calming space and listening to a story has proved to be a positive strategy to support self-regulation. By allowing children to borrow bedtime books from the library, alongside their phonics style reading book, the school has helped parents become more engaged and enthused in reading, as they enjoy exploring the variety and quality of the new texts.

The library at Benwick School included over 1,000 new books.
The library at Benwick School included over 1,000 new books.

“Their parents are wanting to read more with them. The books are engaging the parents as well as the children,” said one of the school's teaching assistants.

Future plans at Benwick involve further author visits to inspire and sustain the excitement built around reading, and initiatives to engage parents of pre-school age children - offering shared story times in the library and nurturing a love of books before school.



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