'We desperately needed a funding solution for new books. I chose to apply for the Siobhan Dowd Trust grant because a neighbouring school had been successful with their bid. I was impressed with how simple the process was, as I just had to write an email to the director explaining how we were developing reading in our school and how the money would help this. We had explored other sources of funding, but this one meant no extensive application process and a quick turnaround. Whereas other grants we looked at took six to seven months to find out the result, we applied to Siobhan Dowd Trust one month and found out we'd been successful the next!
We received £500, which the Trust encouraged us to spend with a local independent bookseller. The Deputy Head and I took six children from Years 5 and 6 to the Norfolk Children's Book Centre. We chose two school librarians and two children who hadn't had the opportunity to visit a bookshop before. Each Year 6 class also nominated one pupil who they thought deserved to go.
The bookshop staff helped the pupils to consider which books might be suitable for all children and age ranges. We were in the bookshop for around an hour-and-a-half, and we briefed each child with a type of book to look for to ensure we ended up with a mixture of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and graphic novels. We let the children make as many of the choices as possible, as the Trust likes the children to have ownership of how the money is spent.
We put around half of the books into the school library, which we announced with an assembly to get the children excited. The rest of the books were divided up to fill gaps in the classroom libraries, meaning the grant had an impact right across the school. We also invited parents in to hear about the new additions, as we're encouraging them to use the school library with their children one night after school to get parents more involved with reading.'
Jon Biddle, Teacher, Moorlands Primary Academy, Belton, Norfolk (350 pupils)