Stars in our schools - the school librarian

As well as fantastic teaching staff, every Ark school has first-rate support and non-teaching staff – from catering teams to bursars – without whom the schools simply wouldn’t be able to operate. This week, we are celebrating some of our schools’ ‘unsung heroes’ for ‘Stars in our schools’, a UNISON-backed national event to celebrate the role support and non-teaching staff play.

The library is an indispensable resource in most schools; a centre not just for students to explore reading, but also a student’s go-to research hub and a calm space to complete homework. And students at Ark Globe Academy have librarian Charlotte Barton to thank for providing a library that goes beyond being just a repository of books and has become a central part of school life.

As well as maintaining a well-stocked library, Charlotte teaches students research methods to help them with their schoolwork and prepare them for the self-led learning that they will encounter if they go to university.

Charlotte says: “The library is a really important space for students to explore reading – a lot of them come from families where there isn’t really a reading culture at home, either because their parents don’t read regularly or they don’t speak English as their first language and struggle to find books they recognise.”

“It’s been really important for us that students have a say in what books we buy for the library. When I first started here, I remember going to a book depository with some students, gave each of them a trolley and a budget and asking them to pick books for the library.

“It really helped encourage reading, because they each proudly told their friends which books they picked out.

“The best part of my job is definitely talking to students about what they’re reading – a lot of them may not have time to talk about reading at home and having somewhere at school where they can discuss books is really helpful.”

Since joining Ark Globe Academy, Charlotte has made the library a vital part of life at the school. The library recently hosted a reading ‘slumber party’ for Children in Need and had a display of books about the First and Second World Wars for Remembrance Day.

Charlotte also hosts a regular homework club and ‘Family Time’ for primary school pupils’ parents to come into the school and help with their children’s schoolwork with help from Charlotte and teaching staff.

Charlotte says: “There’ve been so many great experiences at Ark Globe Academy, but I think my favourite one was when we managed to arrange a visit we had from the author Suzanne LaFleur. She’s a real favourite among our students, so there was a real excitement when she was able to visit.

“It was so nice to see students coming together over a shared love of reading and being able to discuss their passion for a particular author’s work with the author themselves.”