Tuesday, 11 March 2014

First Things First

I am always looking for ways to improve the library, making it more accessible and comfortable for the students at Oxford Spires Academy. I have found that the best results come from consultation with the library users, and now, we are beginning to initiate student-led projects across school through the Learn to Lead program.

This week, Kate wanted to work one-to-one with each of our First Story students to look at which pieces of work will go in the anthology and which might need further development. Meanwhile, I took the other young writers and gave them the opportunity to be creative in another way, through thinking about possible renovations that could be made to the library.

Upstairs there is a large, empty space that is currently used for meetings or silent study. However, it is poorly decorated, completely uninspiring, and often misused. I would love for it to become a hub for creativity and reflection, and proposed that the students might like to lead a project to turn it into a Poetry Hub.

So we met with our Learn to Lead teacher, Mrs Fisher, to look at our options and think up some ideas about how the space might be improved. We started by thinking about what is good about it at the moment, and we agreed that it was exclusive, usually peaceful, and perfect for independent study. However, when we discussed the issues with it, we thought it is unattractive, uncomfortable and subject to disturbances from noisy students from elsewhere in the library and the courtyard outside.

Then, the creative writing students discussed how they might like to see it changed. We had some brilliant (and some strange) ideas, such as giving it a fresh lick of paint, buying some more comfortable furniture, and adding some inspiring stock to the shelves. They also wanted to decorate the walls with quotes from famous writers and asked if we could alter the lighting to induce a more relaxed mood. The sixth formers were keen for the area to remain somewhat exclusive to avoid misuse, and agreed some rules should be developed, but also wanted it to be open to kids from all year groups, offering anyone the opportunity to use the space for inspiration and writing.

We ended the session by creating an action plan, helping us work out what we need to do next, step by step, starting with a meeting to propose the plan to our Principal. The students will have a lot of work to make this come together, but were enthusiastic and motivated to make the necessary changes. Our aim is to get it looking better sometime during the summer term, so we have lots to be keeping us busy!

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