19 April 2024

School in plea over ‘underfunded’ library services

by Rebecca Hannant

Hornsea School and Language College has called on the Government to address the funding shortfalls in its library resources, saying it is the “tip of the iceberg” as the cost-of-living crisis escalates.

Rachael Cotton, head of English, told the Gazette that although the school has a library that was built during summer 2021, it is full of gaps where books and equipment should be. To make up for the lack of resources, the school has had to rely on the English curriculum budget, which Miss Cotton describes as “not being a viable long-term solution”.

However, the funds have not stretched far enough, and the school is having to look to other methods of support, and Miss Cotton fears the pupils’ education will suffer as a result.

She said: “Our coastal school has a large percentage of disadvantaged pupils and, shockingly, Department for Education data shows that the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers this summer was the widest since 2012.

“Reading is a crucial skill that research proves has a direct link to success in later life. It develops skills in terms of communication, empathy and memory – all necessary elements to not only perform well academically, but to also prosper as an individual in life.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of funding for schools. My concern as English strategic improvement leader is if we cannot invest properly in our young people, then we are not investing properly in their future.”

She also criticised the Government’s response to education, and the funding available for schools. She added: “Gillian Keegan has been appointed as Education Secretary, replacing Kit Malthouse.

“She is the fifth person to hold the position this year, and steps into the role amid concerns about rising costs and schools’ budgets.

“It’s good to see the issue on the agenda of the new Education Secretary, though I wonder if people are truly aware about the damaging impact it has on schools, such as ours, being underfunded.

“I’m asking for funds to help our library, but it really is much more than that – reading is closely linked with academic success and is a crucial skill when it comes to developing communication.

“One way I can see the direct impact of this happening now, for our young people, is that we don’t have access to a healthy budget that enables us to create the best library space and resources possible.

“Our school senior leadership team is incredibly supportive and hardworking, and all of us at HSLC share in the same ethos of broadening horizons – but this feels like an impossible task given the lack of funding in the first place.

“We as a school will be hit incredibly hard in the coming months as the cost-of-living crisis escalates and budgets stretch even tighter. We are certainly in unprecedented times.”

To raise money to expand the library, the school will be hosting an event to encourage individuals and businesses to donate books and funds.

For the ticket price of £10, attendees will receive entry to the event as well as a (alcohol/non-alcohol) drink of choice, a cheeseboard served to their table and an entertaining general knowledge quiz for teams of up to six people.

There will be prizes for winners as well as the opportunity to purchase additional drinks for a small donation. People who also bring a new book to the “donation station” on the night will be able to donate just £1 for their next drink.

The school will also add names to the books as dedications to those who have supported the library.

The event will take place on Friday, November 4, between 6-8pm at Hornsea School and Language College.

Those who cannot make the event can still donate to the school. Funds raised will go towards the purchase of more books, equipment and resources for the library.