The Library & Resource Centre

‘Don’t be a fool, Reading is Cool’ - Year 10 student

Don Valley Library is very far from what most people think of as a ‘typical’ library.  It is a busy and lively place, where there is always something going on.  One of our Y10 students, described it as ‘noisy, yet peaceful’, which shows that our students feel welcome and comfortable using the library.

The library is open well beyond the normal school day.  We open each morning at eight o’clock, so students can come in before school starts, and stay open until 4p.m. Monday to Thursday, and until 3.30p.m.on Fridays.   We have open access to all students before and after school, and at break time, and run a pass system for students wanting to use the library during lunch.  Staff are always on hand throughout the day to provide any help or support required by library users.  We also have leaflets on encouraging reading, and book lists of recommended reads available for parents to use at home.

The library has two main roles; to support learning and teaching across the curriculum, and to encourage our students to read more and to develop a real enjoyment of books and reading.   To ensure the teaching and learning support, we make sure our stock is current, curriculum related and that we have books suitable for a range of ages and abilities.  Classes are held in the library, and it is also used for teachers working with small groups.Library 1

Encouraging and promoting reading for pleasure is a major focus area for the whole school.  Our librarian is passionate about books and reading, and the library takes a major role in reading promotion.  The library is ‘themed’ each half-term with bright and colourful displays, complete with related quizzes and competitions for students to enter.  Each of these themes promote different types of books.  We encourage readers to write comments and reviews of the books they read, to help their fellow students making their choices.  There are always lots of book magazines and new book information left for students to look at, and we encourage them to recommend titles for the librarian to buy.

The library also organises and runs lots of exciting and interesting events and activities throughout the year.  We have a weekly reading group, ‘Pageturners’, who meet every Wednesday, and take part in everything from designing book covers, to working with primary students on picture books, and poetry slams.   Other activities include;

  • Author visits; this year for example our students met lots of famous authors including Cathy Cassidy, Andy McNab,  Daniel Blythe, Andy Briggs, Jonathon Meres and Chris Bradford.
  • Theatre and Museum trips; In 2013/4 we have twice taken students to the new CAST performance venue, and to the Seven Stories Museum in Newcastle. 
  • Drama workshops; our students took part in several of these, some working with other secondary schools and others with students from our local primary schools.  They are always really popular!
  • Film shows; We organise special film shows relating to children’s books, for example on World Book Day we showed ‘Sherlock Holmes, Game of Shadows’, complete with lemonade, popcorn and a special mystery to solve.  We also show films at lunchtime and even made our own.
  • Library 2Other special themed events; This year, these have included  illustration and comic workshops, two days of animation workshops and a day- long event with a Dr Who writer complete with a full-size Dalek!

So, definitely not your idea of a typical library!

Don Valley’s success in promoting reading has been widely recognised. We have won several awards over the years, including the National Literacy Trust ‘Reading Connects School of the Year’ in 2010.  As a result of this our school is now a Best Practice case study on the OFSTED website and featured in the OFSTED paper ‘Moving English Forward’.  Our Librarian, Mrs Hopson has won two local awards for ‘Children’s Champion’ and ‘Best in Education’.  This year she was on the Honour Roll for the National School Library Association School Librarian of the Year.  She was also named as a ‘Literacy Hero’ by the National Literacy Trust, alongside J.K. Rowling and Henry Winkler, and presented with her award by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House.

The last words on the library however must go to our students;

‘The library is a nice place with colourful displays to draw you in’ Y9 student

‘It’s not like a normal library, it’s exciting and we do creative things’ Y10 student

‘The books are great, a good mix of fiction and facts and we can choose books for the library to buy’  Y9 student

‘The staff are really kind and friendly’ Y9 student