The school's heart

New libraryNew library

Following a £40k refurbishment over the summer, PTA member Lorraine Bucknall explains why the library is now the heart of Wanstead High School, and what they are raising funds for next.

Parents of prospective Wanstead High students who attended the school's open evening in September were some of the first people to see the Redbridge Lane West school's newly refurbished library. The refurbishment, which was undertaken over the summer, has been a collaborative effort between the school and parents.

The school's PTA met its fundraising target of £18,000 for new furniture and shelving and the school matched that amount to cover the complete redecoration and restore the beautiful parquet flooring, which has been hidden under carpet for years.

The new furniture includes movable shelving to make the library space more flexible and to make it more adaptable for reading groups, after-school book clubs and class study. New desks and seating allow the library to accommodate more students and soft seating creates a more casual, comfortable environment where students can relax while reading during break, lunchtime or after school. The library is a central part of the school and is in constant use from Year 7 to the sixth form. Students have regular reading lessons and many of the students use the facility for study and research.

School librarian Helen Maule said: "We are very fortunate to have such a beautiful new library, especially at a time when many schools are opting for learning resources centres or no library at all. The PTA have done a fantastic job fundraising and the students and myself are extremely grateful. Since opening, we've had a book fair, poetry performances and library lessons. The students really do love being in the library and now more than ever it really does feel like the heart of the school."

The PTA raised money by holding a number of events, including the annual curry and quiz night, comedy nights at Wanstead Golf Club and a fashion night. The school was also chosen as one of the charities for the Co-op community funding scheme, which provided a significant contribution to the project. We have greatly appreciated the support from parents and visitors to the school and from local businesses. In addition, a number of parents obtained match funding from their employers or have donated online.

At the last count, the library contained over 19,000 fiction, non-fiction and reference books. Research has shown that children who read a varied selection of books perform better in English and the school believes access to books is vital in helping students to grow and to prepare them for the transition from high school to university, or to other forms of further education. The PTA is now working to raise funds to buy more books and replace some of the much-loved books which students have enjoyed over the years.

This year's Wanstead High School PTA curry and quiz night will take place on 17 November from 6.30pm (tickets: £15). Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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