When putting this year’s NSSM series of guest posts together, I was really keen to include an example of a school library on a bus. By sheer chance I spotted a tweet about a school that had just opened their new library bus and was delighted when Penny Williams, accepted my invitation to write an account of the project. It is fantastic to see what can be achieved if everyone in the community gets involved – a truly inspiring story about the development of a fantastic place to share stories.
Destination: Your wildest dreams!
Bodnant Community School is a primary school in Prestatyn, Denbighshire with 440 pupils. Historically the Foundation Phase and KS2 have been on separate sites with a separate governing body. The school was amalgamated in 2012 with one head teacher and governing body. Building of the Foundation Phase site on the KS2 site commenced in 2015 and will be opened to the pupils in September 2016.
The plans for the newly amalgamated school did not include provision for a dedicated library and the existing library was turned into a staffroom for the newly merged staff.
We then had the problem of what to do with the 9000 books that formed our KS2 library. Around this time our Reading Champions Steve Skidmore and Steve Barlow (The Two Steves) were visiting the school. They told us about a library bus that they had seen in a school in the South of England. The seed was sown and I started to make enquiries. The head teacher backed the idea straight away.
The first huge hurdle was the financial one. The quotes for refurbishing a bus were over £50,000 and our hopes were dashed. Our budget was less than half that amount.
We then decided to appeal to the community for support and we have been overwhelmed by the support we have received.
A team of volunteers stripped the old fixtures and fittings from the bus and a local building firm re-sprayed the bus for us.
We used a combination of capitation and grants to anchor the bus in place and install heating and air conditioning. A joiner, who also happened to be a parent, worked tirelessly for weeks to decorate and refurbish the inside of the bus. Stickers were added to the outside and a ramp installed. The bus was finally opened on Thursday the 10th March 2016 by the Two Steves.
The pupils are delighted to have a library again and the bus is such an inviting and magical place to be. It stands proudly at the front of our school with a sign that declares ‘We’re all onboard for reading’ and ‘Destination: Your wildest dreams!’
The whole school has benefitted; downstairs is dedicated to the Foundation Phase and upstairs is dedicated to KS2.
Already the books are flying off the shelves and we hope that they continue to do so for many years to come.
We would love to hear from you about other unusual places for sharing stories that have been developed in schools. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups.