A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 17 October 2017

From getting cosy in a reading pod to cuddling up with their very own reading dog, pupils at Mansfield Green E-ACT Academy in Birmingham are being encouraged to develop a love of reading through a number of wonderful initiatives.

For the last 18 months, staff at the academy have been implementing creative initiatives to promote a love of reading, getting pupils excited about the wide range of books available to them.

In what Headteacher Karen Horne describes as a “lightbulb moment”, old cloakrooms have been repurposed and redecorated with murals, mood lighting, packed book shelves and comfy soft furnishings, perfect for curling up with a book. Each pod has its own imaginative design, taking inspiration from literary themes such as underwater worlds, fairy tales and even spies!

But that’s not the only way pupils can enjoy reading at Mansfield Green. Inspired by fellow E-ACT academy Reedswood, giant baskets have been placed outside classrooms for pupils to settle down in with a book and, on certain days, a canine reading companion. Kato, the headteacher’s friendly hound, helps children to relax while they read, and staff have reported that she can even help to calm children that might be feeling distressed or having a tough day.

Pupils also have a brand new library at their disposal where they can join the Library Club at lunch time or after class, or check books out to take home. Thanks to a grant from the Foyle Foundation, the library and reading pods have been filled with a range of books for children to choose from.

Parents have been incredibly positive about the changes, noting that the new reading pods have improved the academy environment. Pupils are equally as positive and have shown a change in their attitude towards reading.

“Their thirst for and love of reading has dramatically improved”Karen Horne, Headteacher

Karen also notes that children have a real desire to take books home and spend their spare time in the reading pods and new library, with pupils of all ages showing interest due to the wide variety of texts on offer.

Meanwhile Kato the reading dog has become something of a Mansfield Green celebrity, with children always asking when she’ll be at the academy next!