The Duchess of Cornwall Visits Ivydale Primary School on International Literacy Day

The Duchess of Cornwall, patron of the National Literary Trust, during her visit to North Swindon Library, where she learned about the Trust's Swindon Hub and met children involved in the Lost Words project, 2019.


Tuesday 8th September 2020

The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron, The National Literacy Trust, will visit Ivydale Primary School on International Literacy Day to open the school’s new library and launch the National Literacy Trust’s Virtual School Library.  

Arriving at Ivydale Primary School, The Duchess will meet a class of Year 3 students engaged in a literacy activity in the playground. Her Royal Highness will also be introduced to parents who have helped to fundraise and donate their time and skills for the new library. In the school hall, author Chris Smith will be engaged in a series of fun activities with another class of Year 3 pupils, linked to his and Greg James’s poem, The Hope-o-potamus, which was published in The Book of Hopes (Bloomsbury Children’s) earlier this year. The Duchess will then be shown the school’s new library and record a video message which will be broadcast on 14th September to launch the National Literacy Trust’s Virtual School Library. 

Ivydale Primary School 

Enabled by three years of PTA fundraising and parental support, Ivydale Primary School has built a brand new school library to use the power of stories to excite, inspire and educate its pupils, staff and the wider community. Many parents also gave their time and expertise – from architecture, painting and decorating, to the creation of soft furnishings and cataloguing books, many of which have been donated by families and publishers, including Penguin Random House and HarperCollins, and via a partnership with Rye Books, a local independent bookshop. 

National Literacy Trust 

School libraries will play a vital role in supporting the literacy and learning of all children as they return to school after such a significant disruption to their education, as research from the National Literacy Trust shows that school libraries nurture a love of reading that can enrich children’s literacy skills, academic achievements and mental wellbeing1. However, not every child has a library at their school and, for those who do, the possibility of future local lockdowns could restrict their access. Indeed, 1 in 10 (10%) schools in England does not have a school library, rising to almost half (44%) of schools serving the most disadvantaged communities2; while new research from the National Literacy Trust, shows almost 1 in 4 (22.5%) children did not have access to print books of their own or library books during lockdown3. 

The Virtual School Library 

Officially opening on Monday 14th September, the National Literacy Trust’s Virtual School Library will be free for all primary schools in the UK to access. Each week, a different children’s author or illustrator will be a guest ‘school librarian’ and provide children with an exclusive video, a free ebook or audiobook, engaging activities and three recommended reads. The National Literacy Trust has worked with a wide range of publishers, including Bloomsbury and Penguin Random House, to ensure the books and activities featured on the Virtual School Library will support every child’s wellbeing through reading on their return to school. The Virtual School Library’s first guest school librarians will be children’s authors Greg James and Chris Smith. From Monday 14th September, all primary schools in the UK will be able to access an exclusive video, a free Kid Normal audiobook and engaging activities on the National Literacy Trust’s Virtual School Library. 

The Book of Hopes 

The Book of Hopes, hosted exclusively on the National Literacy Trust’s website is a collection of poems, short stories and pictures from more than 110 authors and illustrators to comfort, inspire and entertain children. To date, the extraordinary collection has been viewed more than 441,000 times by families. 


1 National Literacy Trust (2019) Understanding the impact and characteristics of school libraries and reading spaces 

2 Great School Libraries Campaign (2019) Great School Libraries Survey Findings 

3 National Literacy Trust (2020) 1,619 parents of children aged 0 to 18 in the UK were surveyed about their children’s literacy during the COVID-19 lockdown, between May and mid-June 2020 

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