Rushmore Primary School in Hackney, last had a school library in 1996 before it made way for a computer room. Two weeks ago this all changed when, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the school’s PTA and support of its parents and staff, its brand new library was opened by children's author Nick Butterworth – a powerful demonstration of how children's books are valued by the whole school community.
Author Nick Butterworth (pictured below) was delighted to come along and open the library with his granddaughter having just started reception and loving her new school experience.
Working closely with the school, the PTA raised a phenomenal £10,000 towards the library development costs by running numerous cake sales and the summer and winter fairs.
The school library now has over 4,000 brand new books for the children to choose from. And the library is wonderfully designed with quiet spaces for children to lay out with their favourite book, a nice cosy sofa to sit on, a number of tables to sit around and great photos of the children hanging from each wall.
Cat Sutcliffe (pictured above), Year 5 teacher and literacy lead for the school, was key to its success – pushing forward the initiative and working with the head teacher, PTA, parents, teachers and children alike to make it happen. She says: “Two years ago we weren’t really ready for the library. Our focus was on the reading in classrooms, supporting individuals with their reading challenges. But once we decided the time was right for a library, the PTA were amazingly supportive and worked hard to raise a phenomenal £10,000 to help get the library up and running”
“There's something very special about seeing all the children talking about books and settling down to read them. The library is opening a new door for them, one which is full of different possibilities, alternative endings and inspirational ideas."
Hannah Gibson, PTA Treasurer and the school’s Storyteller in Residence (pictured below), explains how the PTA got involved:“It started with our regular ‘turning cakes into books’ year group sales that we held on a regular basis. We received so much support from our parents for these events as I guess they can really see the benefit of a book in a classroom”
“I've had a couple of storytelling sessions in the library since it opened and the children's excitement hasn't worn off yet. I’m looking forward to seeing well-used books in the library – then we know just how much the resource is valued and used by the children!”
Carys Miller, Chair of Governors:“We are really proud of our reading at Rushmore, and of our new wonderful library, full of interesting, exciting and inspiring books. We want to say thank you to everyone who helped us make this project happen, our children, parents and carers, PTA, teachers, staff and everyone who raised money to make our library dream a reality.”
Rushmore PTA's top tips for success:
1. Get parents involved
The promotion of the PTA ‘Turning Cakes into Books’ events throughout the year was a low key way for parents to get involved with the school easily, knowing their efforts bought books for their children.
2. Have a whole-community approach
A hugely supportive head teacher and literacy head meant the school and PTA could work together with a similar message to all parents in a whole-community approach.
3. Get the children engaged in the project
Getting the children involved and active around the library creation continued the whole-community approach. Cat also used the excitement around the project as a learning opportunity to develop creative writing through poetry competitions. And enthusiasm of the children naturally filtered through to the parents.
Photo credit: Rachel Turner