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Hope for new library in Downham Market Academy to become interactive learning hub

PUBLISHED: 13:24 18 December 2017

Having a game of chess in the newly updated library at the Downham Market Academy are (L) Charlie Muskett (14) and Sam Randall (13). Picture: Ian Burt

Having a game of chess in the newly updated library at the Downham Market Academy are (L) Charlie Muskett (14) and Sam Randall (13). Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

A new and updated library filled with up-to-date books and games has become the social hub of a school.

Amber Scott (13) decorating the Christmas tree in the newly updated library at the Downham Market Academy. Picture: Ian Burt Amber Scott (13) decorating the Christmas tree in the newly updated library at the Downham Market Academy. Picture: Ian Burt

Since being taken over by the Cambridgeshire Educational Trust in November, Downham Market Academy (DMA) has started making changes, beginning with its library.

In a report earlier this month, several Norfolk school libraries revealed a struggle in keeping stock current with many relying on parents and teachers to alleviate stock and staffing challenges.

This comes after an urgent call was made to the government by more than 150 authors - including Norwich-born Philip Pullman - for “urgent intervention” to halt the decline of school libraries across the country.

But librarian and careers officer at DMA, Sarah Hovell, is hoping the new library will encourage more youngsters to take up reading and to use the library space to aid their learning.

Katie Drew (13) and Genevieve Wright (13) in the newly updated library at the Downham Market Academy. Picture: Ian Burt Katie Drew (13) and Genevieve Wright (13) in the newly updated library at the Downham Market Academy. Picture: Ian Burt

“The students seem to be really engaging with the library,” she said. “We are trying to make it a part of the school and investing money into buying new books.”

“But it is not just about coming in and having to get a book, there are magazines and newspapers and games like scrabble and chess, which are educational and it gets your brain working. It is good to have that sort of thing.

“There is a really nice buzz around here, we have lots of students coming in here now.”

Ms Hovell said the library is more than a place for just books, it is a safe haven encompassing all of a students’ educational needs, with computers for homework and games for engagement.

Zack Shipp (16) in the newly updated library at the Downham Market Academy. Picture: Ian Burt Zack Shipp (16) in the newly updated library at the Downham Market Academy. Picture: Ian Burt

But she said reading still remains the foundation of learning and libraries act as a good avenue for young people to take it up as a hobby.

She added: “It is a shame so many school libraries are closing, reading teaches you so much without you even realising it.

“We encourage students to read no matter what it is, even if it is a newspaper or magazine, as long as they are reading regularly at least 15 to 20 minutes a day.

“It improves their learning not only in school but in their adult life.

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