Ebay story bus offers new seats of learning

15th January 2010 at 00:00
Primary's #163;2,000 purchase gives pupils smoother journey to literacy

Drilling at Wroxham Primary has taken on a whole new meaning since parents have taken up tools to help create a library from a double-decker bus bought for #163;2,000 on Ebay.

"I was taken aback by the amount of interest," said Alison Peacock, headteacher of the school in Potters Bar. "Dads were sidling up to me at the school play, asking if we wanted any help to do up the bus.

"One dad brought in an angle grinder to take out the seats. Others have said they'll put carpet down. There is something inspiring about the bus - ripping bits out, getting up on scaffolding."

The idea for a story bus came after an inspection at the 240-pupil school, one of only 56 in the Creative Partnerships scheme for those at the cutting edge of creative learning.

In 2001, Wroxham Primary was in special measures. Mrs Peacock arrived in January 2003 and brought in the creative approach. Her vision was so successful that by 2006, the school was judged outstanding.

Ofsted visited again last March and judged the school outstanding in every category with just one minor complaint - the way the books were displayed in the library.

Mrs Peacock said: "At our staff Inset day we were looking for a new challenge. Ofsted had said the library was lacklustre - although our library has a (Second World War) motorbike and sidecar in it for the children to sit in and read.

"Then our deputy head, Roger Billing, said, 'Why not think about a new space? How about a bus?' We thought it would provide, literally, a good vehicle for creative learning."

Mr Billing, who also teaches Year 4, found a bus for sale on Ebay and two weeks before Christmas the previous owner drove the bus from the Midlands to the school.

Mrs Peacock said: "As it came along the road next to the school, the children saw it out of their windows and a great cheer went up. It stopped in the car park, then the children from Year 4 came out and got on."

The plan now is for the stationary bus to have a library downstairs with a model robot driver at the wheel. Upstairs, there will be a store for costumes and a small meeting room.

The project has captured the imagination of children's laureate Anthony Browne, who will visit the school next month to see the story bus for himself.

But the current library has not been forgotten. The school plans to transform it into an information centre containing computers, microscopes, reference books and inspiring artefacts.

Roll on the next inspection.

EDUCATION BY ONLINE AUCTION

Buying

- At King James's School in Knaresborough, mobile phones have been integrated into lessons. For pupils who didn't have their own, phones were bought from Ebay for #163;6 each.

- "Ourselves, our bodies", a popular Year 1 theme, was livened up at Burlington Infants and Nursery School in Kingston upon Thames when a teacher turned to Ebay to buy some real X-rays for the topic.

Selling

- Hampton Hill Junior in Richmond raised #163;35,000 with an auction of celebrity memorabilia on Ebay. It has provided an 18-terminal ICT suite and a sensory garden.

- Hazel Wheatley, of Normanby-by-Spital Primary, Lincolnshire, raised money for Comic Relief by selling her plans for a key stage 2 English lesson on Ebay. It involved pupils discussing a YouTube video in which an office worker finds a black hole in a photocopier.

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