CHILDREN at an Oxfordshire school are getting on board a double-decker bus to help drive their love of reading.

The former London bus is Stadhampton Primary School’s new library. It helps the school deal both with growing demands on space and provides a unique place for children to read.

There is a major focus on reading across the county at the moment as primary schools have been taking part in the Oxford Mail-backed Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.

While Stadhampton is not among the schools taking part, it is an example of one of the many ways in which schools have become fired up about getting children enthused about reading.

Poppy Elliott, 32, from Berinsfield, has two children at the school, Lorenzo, six, and Betsy, nine.

Their younger brother, Dexter, three, also attends Little Bears Pre-School on the same site.

Mrs Elliott said: “It is a fantastic idea.

“They have created a great space for the children and they are all really keen about it because it is something unique and different.”

Numbers at the school have risen from around 60 to 90, meaning leaders have had to think hard about how to accommodate the extra pupils with a limited budget The new double-decker bus, which has both a non-fiction library and an upstairs workspace that can be used by up to 16 children for other reading activities, will free up the former library space to be used for small group work and as a storage space for teaching resource. That in turn means equipment can be taken out of other classrooms to accommodate more schoolchildren.

Headteacher Kathryn Turner said: “We have had to think of novel ways of resolving the demands on space for ourselves and looking at the options.

“We thought this was a novel opportunity to have both a library and, on the upper floor, effectively a small classroom.”

The school investigated the possibility of using a temporary building or a permanent extension but neither were financially-viable.

The cost of the bus, including converting it and providing seating, bookcases and other fittings, was about £17,000.

It has been filled with both existing books from the former library and new volumes, and was officially opened by local poet James Carter earlier this month.

The bus, which sits between the main school building and swimming pool on part of the playground, is conncected to the mains electricity supply and has filter film on the windows.

It has been painted green so its visual impact won’t be too dramatic for school neighbours.

Mrs Turner said: “The children couldn’t wait to get in there and have their turn using the library.

“They think it’s absolutely amazing.”


The Oxfordshire Reading Campaign was launched in September by Oxfordshire County Council in an attempt to address poor test results in county schools.

The two-year scheme is run by the National Literacy Trust and backed by the Oxford Mail. It includes targeted reading interventions to boost literacy skills for seven year olds, plus a volunteer scheme to help foster a love of reading.

Children involved work in small groups with trained teaching assistants on the Project X Code books, designed to improve phonics and understanding, and read one-on-one with volunteers.

In all, 54 schools across the county are taking part, with roughly 100 volunteers working in schools. Of those, 30 were recruited and trained through an Oxford Mail campaign.
The rest volunteered through the school community.