Library Bus is just the ticket as PTA raises £39,000 for new facility

Key summary

Baston CE Primary is a small, one form entry village school, which had grown to the point of bursting at the seams. The building was originally designed for almost half the number of children on the register, so facilities like the library are far too small. That’s when the school came up with the ideal solution: a moveable space in the form of a library bus! Lucy Hartley, PTA committee member, tells us how they went about it…


“In October 2018, our PTA Chair, Emma, approached Stagecoach East Midlands who very kindly offered to supply the school with a double decker bus, which had been taken out of service.

“Not only were we giving the bus a new lease of life, but it was going to be put to great use, as we had exciting plans to renovate it as a large and exciting library, as well as being able to use it for many additional activities such as a book club and SATS revision hub.”

Lucy tells us that the PTA’s first task was to arrange for the transportation and storage of the bus: “We were really fortunate that a local transport company offered to pay for the transportation of the bus to Baston, and that a friend of our committee members was able to store the bus at her farm whilst it underwent its transformation.”

Once the bus was in situ, it was all hands on deck. With the engine and fuel tank safely stripped away, the PTA team, along with other parents and volunteers, helped to remove the existing seating and strip the vinyl from the floor - which Lucy says was a laborious process! Lucy tells us that one of the first things on the PTA team’s “to do” list was to set up crowd funding and social media pages to share their news and ask for help from the wider community.

With a host of local tradesmen ready and willing to help with the re-fit process, the PTA team began applying for several grants almost immediately - everything from council grants and business community funds – to secure the funding required for the bus renovations. “Things started to happen really quickly,” recalls Lucy. “Before we knew it, we had received a £6,000 donation from village charity, Baston Events; generous donations from other local businesses and organisations including Baston Parish Council and South Kesteven District Council; £4,000 from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme; and, thanks to previous fundraising efforts, the PTA was able to allocate £9,000 towards the renovations. The support from the school community was absolutely fantastic too: a sponsored read in school raised another £2,000.”

Lucy says they were also fortunate to be able to tap into the skills of parents who were really behind the project: “One of our parents drew up some plans so we could visualise what the bus would look like inside and out. This really helped us to convey to people what we were trying to achieve – and I think everyone was really impressed!

“We had decorators, carpenters, electricians, furniture upholsterers and a host of other people on site, all of whom helped us to realise the vehicle’s transformation. We really can’t thank them enough.”

It’s amazing what you can achieve with the support of the whole school community. To think that in less than 12 months we managed to raise almost £40k to fund our fantastic library bus is incredible!

In less than 12 months since the idea was discussed, the bus’ transformation was complete and it was transported to its permanent home in the school grounds. The PTA’s village book amnesty has got things off to a good start and there are already almost 1000 books in the bus. “Before the school broke up for the summer, the PTA arranged an official opening and invited all those who had been involved in making it happen,” says Lucy.

"There’s a fantastic buzz in school and in the community too. For the children, they’re so excited about going to their library to read books – and it really has been wonderful to see the vehicle’s transformation into a creative space crammed with reading material for everyone to enjoy.”

 

Lucy’s tips:

  • If you ask nicely then most people are more than willing to help. In our case, we were able to show the plans we had drawn up which helped others to visualise what we wanted to achieve.
  • Social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, really helped us to reach out to the local community and update them on our progress. It was also a great way of publicly thanking companies and individuals for their support along the way.
  • Do your research. When we looked into it, we were surprised how many schools have actually used a bus as a library, or for extra classroom space. By looking at what other schools have done you’ll see what worked well for them, what they would change and how they went about the process.
  • Apply for as many grants as you can find, as early as possible, so that you have an idea of your total budget.
  • And finally …the removal of vinyl flooring is really hard work, if you don’t have to do it then don’t!

Fact File
  • PTA name: Baston School PTA
  • School name: Baston C of E Primary School
  • Age range: 4-11
  • Country: England
  • School type: Primary school
  • Size: 200

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