What is the link between Cedar Mount School in Gorton and AGGS in Bowdon? They are both within the Greater Manchester vicinity. Both teaching institutions, providing an education for young people between the ages of 11-16 years old. Both part of the Bright Futures Education Trust. These three elements have brought the schools together through a book donating scheme this October.
Cedar Mount invested into a brand new library in their school; a new hub from which they could encourage more pupils to frequently read, outside of the classroom. With their efforts, the school has seen a gradual increase in the numbers of students using the library. A handful of students even arrive before school at 8am, in order to use the library as a haven, to read and relax before their official school day begins. This new facility sounds like an exciting new prospect for the whole school community, yet what if I told you that their library had no more than 200 books for their 900 students? Those figures immediately expose that the collection of books were too small, unvaried and inadequate for their pupils’ ambitions, interests and abilities. The select group of avid library users, were already running out of material that they found interesting to read.
In the September 2016, Cedar Mount approached AGGS and asked if the school could help out to help out with this severe shortage of books. Notably, without the Bright Futures Trust binding the two schools together, this may not have been possible. Collaboratively, as a school, as a community, we could do more than our fair share to help the students of Cedar Mount. After all, the students of Cedar Mount deserved more than 200 books. With support from the English department, a group of Year 9 and 10 students led by myself, a Year 13, took on the challenge of managing this project. We met up every Tuesday for 5 weeks and created a PowerPoint, delivered assemblies and managed the logistics of book donations. We asked all pupils and staff to donate at least one book that they had enjoyed and felt someone else would like to read. I am glad to announce that AGGS gathered nearly 2,000 books for Cedar Mount library, which exceeded any figure that either school expected.
This donating scheme is an example of what the Trust is about; sharing resources, whether it be teaching techniques or books. The Trust aims to improve all of its schools, by collaboratively learning from one another. This collaboration is rarely done on a student level so therefore we utilised this donating scheme as an opportunity to begin to build a relationship with the pupils from each school. We encouraged every person who donated a book, to attach a note to the book, explaining why each one was donated. These messages were not only to help pupils choose which books to read from a pupil perspective but also encourage students to expand their interests by trying a different genre, author or style.
On Friday 21st October, Cedar Mount’s Year 11 leadership team and the AGGS book donating group met and discussed the scheme and brainstormed ideas of how we could help one another in the future. We met in the AGGS library and the beginning of the meeting was full of nervous energy and anticipation. Admittedly, with the help of cake and juice to ease the atmosphere, pupils and teachers from both schools laughed, thanked and even cried at what we had achieved together. The handing over of the 2,000 books felt satisfying for all participants of the scheme. A positive relationship has now been set in motion; AGGS have given a scrapbook to Cedar Mount, which is now in the Cedar Mount library, where pupils are responding with messages regarding their thoughts and feelings about the donated books. AGGS have been invited to visit Cedar Mount Library and collect the scrapbook as a momentum in the following years.
In principle, the scheme was purely about solving an issue together by simply giving away valued books from one pupil to another. Giving and sharing are the most rewarding actions that you can do. What I, and many of my fellow pupils have taken from this scheme, is that giving is so much easier than you first might think. I strongly hold the belief that the more individuals group together to help someone other than ourselves, the more likely it is that we would live in a happier, more fulfilled and stronger community, country and even global society. This scheme is an exemplary example of this belief.