Express & Star

Reading at the heart of school as vending machine is a hit

It's a vending machine without chocolate or fizzy drinks – instead it serves up knowledge.

Ryan Harper and children from the academy take a look at some of the books on offer

A Sandwell academy has set up a machine to help its pupils enjoy reading more.

Ryan Harper from Bostin Coffee converted one of his vending machines for Wednesbury Oak Academy.

It is stuffed full of books and has helped to promote reading at the academy, as well as help it achieve a good rating from Ofsted.

The machine carries a range of books, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Narnia and Harry Potter books, as well as poetry books, Tom Fletcher books and Horrible Histories, and it is used as part of a reward scheme for reading champions.

Assistant headteacher Lisa Steadman said the academy, in Greenacre Road, Tipton, had wanted to focus on reading and promote it to the children after a 'requires improvement' rating from Ofsted and the vending machine acted as an incentive.

She said: "There's many things that have been put in place and the vending machine has been used as an incentive to the children to win prizes and get them to read more.

"What happens is that in each assembly, there's two children from each year group who are awarded a reading champion certificate and, to be able to qualify to use the machine, they must get four certificates, which gets them a gold token.

"That gold token lets them get their prize from the machine and they get to keep the book, which are brand new and awarded to the school."

Ms Steadman said reading was at the heart of everything the academy strives for and it holds activities such as reading clubs at 8.30am, which allowed children to catch up on reading.

She said the children had taken to the machine really well and loved being able to get books from it.

She said: "We had two assemblies on the day we unveiled it, with the headteacher cutting a ribbon, and the children were very excited about it.

"What helped us as well was that the Ofsted inspectors came in on the same day and were very impressed with the vending machine.

"Children walk past it and look to see what new books are in there and I hear them saying they want that new Wimpy Kid book, so it's absolutely brilliant."

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