As today is national reading day we wanted to share some of the work that our library-based colleagues have been doing, getting creative with how they embed English language skills in as many areas of learning as possible, here’s just a few of many examples across our establishments:
HMP Hewell library successes
The library team at HMP Hewell have had a successful 2022, actively growing an interest in books and reading amongst our learners, expanding activities across other curriculum areas to broaden their reach. To take on the challenge, they developed an enrichment calendar, full of events spread throughout the year that offered opportunities to engage learners, a handful of examples from the year are below.
In summer, they introduced puzzles and a book club to the library, with the aim of providing a calm and contemplative environment for our learners and a reason for attending. The book club also gave our learners the opportunity to share their reading with other learners, allowing peer to peer conversations based around literature.
In the autumn, they put together a Black History Month display, which was supported by a drumming demonstration in the chapel and collaborated with the PE department to take part in sports and games, they then encouraged our learners to read books related to the topic.
Our colleagues also worked with learners in the same period on the International Online Prison Chess tournament. The first of its kind, our learners competed against prisoners from across the world. Many of the skills associated with chess, such as calmness and quiet contemplation also apply to reading and the two programmes worked well together
Finally, our library colleagues helped support on the final enrichment activities of the year in winter with the anti-bullying week and the addition of a new foosball table to the facility. Both have gone a long way towards creating a safe and inclusive space that learners enjoy visiting.
Using reading and introspection to deliver English skills
At HMP Leeds, our learners have recently begun participating in weekly book club sessions. The participants are getting together for two hours every week to discuss the themes and characters of their current read, with the most recent being Shawshank Redemption!
Chosen because of how popular the movie is amongst our learners, and due to the relatable themes, that the novel deals with, the book club will tackle the book by assigning different topics for each learner to reflect on and then discuss in the club meetup.
So far, the engagement has been excellent. Learners have been great at participating and have made sure to keep up to date in their reading. Each member of the club had the chance to speak in the session and feedback has been positive; they all enjoyed the experience and remarked on how good it was to have time to sit and engage in conversation.
To “bookend” the session, club members will have the chance to write a book review, which will be displayed in the library alongside illustrations and pictures from the book and movie, and copies of the novel.
English as an aid in rehabilitation of prisoners
Throughout 2022, the library team at HMP Whealstun have worked in partnership with The Shannon Trust to assist learners in their progress on reading programmes. One of the learners involved in the project has gone from not being able to read and write, to taking part in a an E3 English course. This change in reading abilities will provide countless opportunities when they are released.
Collaboration is key and by working with organisations like The Shannon Trust, who support our learners who can read and teach those who can’t, we can make sure that everyone achieves their fullest potential. The Shannon Trust work with our library team at HMP Whealstun, and across the country, engaging people who are looking for more responsibility and for a way to help their fellow learners.
At HMP Whealstun, learners receive information about the library in their induction to the site, and a large emphasis has been placed on the importance of the resource for any individual who may be interested. By raising the profile of the library, we are hoping that it provides a friendly and casual way for learners to start their educational journey.
Our colleagues carried out some amazing work last year that pushed the importance of Reading and English in our offering. Take a look at some of our other work from 2022, and head over to our careers page if you want to get involved yourself.