200 books help Leicestershire school start new chapter

The Barratt Foundation have helped to fund 200 books to create a fresh reading culture at Forest Lodge Academy in New Park, Leicestershire.

The contribution of the ‘Your Story Corner’ pack, in partnership with Bookmark and The Symondson Foundation, has provided the Charnor Road school pupils with a range of high quality reading resources.

Included within the pack is 200 books for children aged between four and nine-years-old, posters, postcards, worksheets and a certificate to help encourage reading for pleasure, as well as support and inspiration for ‘book chat’, to enhance a school’s reading culture.

Donated ahead of National Share-a-Story Month, which takes place during May, the pack worth £2,000 was given to Forest Lodge Academy with the funding from The Barratt Foundation.

Caroline Toone, English Co-ordinator at Forest Lodge Academy, said: “The children at Forest Lodge have loved our new selection of books and I have enjoyed reading them during our daily story time sessions. Thank you to everyone at Bookmark and the Barratt Foundation for providing us with such a wonderful variety of new and exciting books, we are so very grateful.”

Andy Button-Stephens (Head of the Barratt Foundation) and Sonal Henderson (Foundation Partnerships and Projects Manager) visited the school as the pupils unbox their ‘Your Story Corner’ resources.

Also in attendance were Laura Burke, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Bookmark, in addition to Fiona Symondson, Philanthropy Committee Member at The Symondson Foundation.

Andy Button-Stephens said: “It was a pleasure to spend the morning with the pupils at Forest Lodge Academy as they unpacked their ‘Your Story Corner’ resources, and we really enjoyed seeing the smiles on their faces as they received a variety of new books.

“We were able to see first-hand how the school’s pupils embrace their passion for reading and it’s a privilege to work alongside Bookmark and The Symondson Foundation and help enhance the skills and learning of children in Leicestershire.”

The Barratt Foundation has committed to a significant partnership with Bookmark, having donated £100,000 to the charity in October 2022 to make a difference in schools across the UK.

Over a six-month period, Bookmark delivered 12,252 hours of reading support, supported 144 schools, and enabled 1,434 children to receive at least one full reading programme.

Laura Burke said: “Early literacy has a significant impact on a child’s education, employment, and mental health. We are incredibly grateful to the Barratt Foundation for their generous commitment to Bookmark, which is helping us to reach more children in areas of high literacy need, so that they can succeed in school and beyond.”

A pilot group is also underway, made up of 20 Barratt and David Wilson Homes employees volunteers who have signed up to be reading helpers.

After one term of support from The Barratt Foundation, the autumn evaluation showed that 94% of teachers noticed an increase in reading confidence, 88% reported an increase in reading enjoyment and 72% saw an increase in reading skill.