11th June 1999 at 01:00
(Photograph) - A day in the life of St Gabriel's CE Primary School, Pimlico, central London.

It sounds too good to be true: pound;15 for each pupil to spend on books of his or her choice. But it's a dream realised for Years 2 and 5 children at St Gabriel's - a Victorian school in the midst of a modern housing estate near the Thames - as part of the Reading Is Fundamental project. The charity-run scheme funds the two year groups to go to three different London bookstores - which put on special events for the children - in a year. To top it off, each has a pound;5 voucher to buy his or her own book on each visit. St Gabriel's Year 2 headed for Books etc in London's Bayswater, where they met author Nicholas Allan, best known for The Queen's Knickers. Year 2 teacher and deputy head Suzanne Parry says that reading plays a big part at the 208-pupil St Gabriel's - "We've launched ourselves fully into the literacy hour." The scheme, which the school also benefited from last year, follows a good OFSTED report in 1997.

* Sign of the times: author Nicholas Allan in Books etc

* Front-runners: pupils line up for lunch

* The right choice: handing over a pound;5 voucher

* Drawing near: Year 3 pupil Kevin Kwok

* Saucy: reception pupil Mohammed Lel Yamlahi

* Concentrated effort:Chlo Townsend listens to a story

* Game for a laugh: the year 2 pupils in Bayswater's Books etc

* Rope tricks: Paul Fleming of Year 1

Snaps by Joel Chant

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