School's Out: Pupils Tackling Loneliness

Young people at Kearsley Academy drive away loneliness by sharing their love of books with those self-isolating


Good friends and good books make for the ideal life according to author Mark Twain.

Unfortunately, good friends have to be kept at a distance during the coronavirus "lockdown" ­— but Kearsley Academy has come up with a novel idea to ensure everyone enjoys the pleasure of reading a good book.

The school has 'virtually' linked up with local care homes and sheltered housing schemes to pass on their love of reading to the elderly to drive away the feeling of lonliness as many self-isolate, under social-distancing restrictions through its "reading routes" programme.

Using a map inspired by the London underground, young bookworms follow the routes, which represent different book genres, and pick up one of the books on the way. The reading route map links all the schools governed by Northern Education Trust, which oversees Kearsley Academy.

The school says that the "reading routes" programme, to encourage pupils to read for leisure and pleasure, has strengthened the school community through the shared experience of reading, through prompting discussions about the books.

And the programme has also encourage young people to immerse themselves into a variety of different texts that they previously would not have considered reading.

They are given personalised certificates for every five books they read, and each route they complete. If pupils achieve a magnificent 10 routes/50 books, they receive a Kindle.

Now the school has shared its programme with members of the local community to provide some respite from the isolation they may be feeling, by joining the reading routes challenge.

The school is offering to loan books ­— with strict hygiene and safety measures in place ­— from the routes to those residents, and hope in return they will share their thoughts and feelings about the books by writing a short review, for the young people. And it is hoped that students will respond back and strengthen links with the community during these unprecedented times.

And their opinions will also help pupils decide which book to read next

Dean Buckley, Associate Executive Principal, said: “We know many of our students, and staff, have elderly relatives or vulnerable family members who are feeling the negative effects of the restrictions now in place. Although they may be unable to have visits at the moment, we hope that joining our reading challenge will create a sense of connection to the school community, as well as the knowledge that they are helping students make future choices based on their influence. Now more than ever, it is important that we all work collectively and provide the opportunities to show solidarity.

"Together, through a love of reading, this provides a unique opportunity to further build links and entrench ourselves as a key part of the community which we are proud to be part of."


This article was written by Saiqa Chaudhari, and originally featured on The Bolton News.



Read more from our School's Out series