School launches library on wheels

Colin Barnes, Brian Walker, Sara Swales and pupils Alexa and Harry with the new Go Read Bus.

A Go North East bus has been transformed into an inspirational learning environment, to encourage students with special educational needs to read for fun and improve their literacy skills. 

Now a dedicated library space for 260 pupils at The Oaks Secondary School in Spennymoor, the Go Read Bus was unveiled at special event on Friday 18th January. 

Colin Barnes, Engineering Director at the region’s biggest bus operator, arranged the donation of the bus last year and  marked the launch with an official ribbon cutting. 

He was joined by 17 of the school’s best young readers, who enjoyed meeting well-known Darlington-based children’s author and illustrator, Liz Million.

Up and coming writer, Lisette Auton from Darlington, also attended the celebration alongside local fundraisers Alicia Cowie, Spennymoor’s own Miss England 2018, and Community Champion Donna Allison from Asda, who together have raised over £2,000 for the project.

The quirky concept originated from the school’s English teacher, Sara Swales, who wanted to update the current library facilities by creating an engaging area for students to focus on reading for leisure. 

She said: “I realised that if we wanted to really take literacy seriously and help our students, our tiny, bland library wasn’t going to cut it. The idea for the bus snowballed from there and it’s turned out better than I’d hoped.”

Externally wrapped in colourful book graphics, the inside of the bus has been invitingly-designed in the style of a café. 

Fitted with bookshelves and seats, students can relax while reading and take part in literacy workshops.

Sara added: “Thanks to this generous donation from Go North East and fundraising activities by many local businesses, including Asda and Alicia, our students are excited about reading. 

“The bus promises to take their imaginations wherever they want without even leaving school grounds, which wouldn’t have been possible without this support.”

Colin Barnes added: “Going on the bus can be a real adventure for young people in itself but this transformation has really gone the extra mile. It was a pleasure to help this creative project come to life and seeing how enthusiastic the children are about reading on the bus is incredibly rewarding.”

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