Exciting First Year of John O’Gaunt School’s New Library

Our lovely new Library at John O’Gaunt School is one year old and thriving. It is fast becoming the beating heart of the school and, as well as raising literacy levels, it is a busy social, inspirational, media hub for students. In fact, it is only ever quiet on specially reserved days!

Reading is of course central to what happens in the Library. This year we are looking forward to more Community Book Clubs, sharing great books, debate and ideas with the wider school community, including our local primary schools. We will be shadowing the Carnegie Book Awards and are involved in the Berkshire Book Award for new titles chosen by young readers.

In fact, I’m thrilled that John O’Gaunt Library is hosting Berkshire Book Award’s Pen2Page event in February, where the shortlist will be announced by talented author Jo Cotterill. Our Book Clubbers will listen to Jo, mingle with other readers from schools across Berkshire to discuss and choose their favourites.

But a great modern Library is about much more, too. We are looking forward to more Writing Club challenges in 2017 which will include Flash & Fan Fiction, song writing and even (as requested) help with planning novels! I guess it helps to be a working, published writer & journalist myself and it was particularly nice to celebrate with students at the end of this year: the writing I had published in 4 Seasonal Anthologies in 2016 were among The Guardian’s and The Telegraph’s best books for 2016!

We have been busy developing links with St John’s School Library in Marlbourgh (another amazing and influential space within the Excalibur Academy). We have become members of The School Library Association, West Berkshire Libraries and recently, Hampshire School Library Service, which will ensure a fresh supply of books, fantastic online resources and other invaluable support for our students.

I’m looking forward to developing Information Literacy within school (how we find, research and use reliable information in a digital age). It’s an increasingly hot topic and will become ever more important to our young people as phrases like post-truth, false news and social media echo chambers enter society.

Our Young Journalists are an incredibly inspiring bunch and it is such a pleasure to work with them, Journalist Shane Christian Dean and our Assistant Vice-Principal, Mr Holley. The Young Journalists create positive news stories that appear in the local press and their innovation, passion and dedication is wonderful to behold. We are hoping this year will be a successful one for our new School Magazine – watch this space!

I’m inspired on a daily basis by our lovely enthusiastic students and their curiosity about the world, as well as the fantastic, dedicated and hardworking teaching and support staff here. In 2016, eight Children’s Laureates wrote to the Education Secretary, urging parents to consider and compare School Libraries when choosing Schools as a matter of priority. Our latest exam results have been our best yet and in becoming an Academy too, the future looks very bright indeed. It’s an exciting privilege to be part of it.

A heartfelt thank you to the whole community who supported & helped fundraise for the new Library. We are busy making sure it works hard – and returns that bright future!

Nicola Chester
John O’Gaunt School Librarian

Twitter @JogLibrary


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