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A new route to reading

05 November 2019

Students at Haute Vallée have been driving forward literacy with a quirky library that used to transport thousands of students to and from school. 

The former school bus, registration plate J46598, ferried pupils around the island for 11 years before being decommissioned in 2018 when work began to transform it into a fully fitted school library. 

Prisoners from States of Jersey Prison Service spent six months renovating the bus by building shelves, laying flooring and creating bespoke fixtures and fittings, all to meet designs submitted by the students. Local businesses Geomarine, Normans, Flawless Flooring, Signtech and No 1 Recovery donated their time and supplies to the community project, which saw LibertyBus, who donated the vehicle, nominated in the corporate philanthropy category for the Style Awards in July.

The Minister for Education, Senator Tracey Vallois, said: “This project is just one example of the many creative and impressive ways in which schools engage students in their learning. From designing the interior and exterior of the bus right through to stocking the shelves with books, this project has spanned across the curriculum.”

Aimee Jinks, literacy coordinator at Haute Vallée School, said that the unique library had already helped engage more students with reading.

“Literacy is crucial to a student’s ability to access all strands of the curriculum, and we feel very proud to be the school to pioneer such a project, especially as it involved the students from start to finish, from designing plans to cutting the ribbon on the open day,” she said.

The Minister for Home Affairs, Constable Len Norman, said: “This is a good example of the States of Jersey Prison Service having a positive link with the community. It is important for prisoners to engage in such valuable community projects; it puts the skills they have learnt in prison into practice and helps with their rehabilitation which, ultimately, reduces reoffending.”

The Head of Reducing Reoffending for the States of Jersey Prison Service, Lesley Harrison, said that the project had “complemented the prison’s rehabilitation work with prisoners”.

The Prison Governor and Head of SoJPS, Nick Cameron, said: “We are pleased to be part of a community project helping young people. It also provided prisoners with a project to evidence work-related skills gained whilst in prison, that can be used when seeking employment after release.” 

Nikki Withe, HR, training and community manager for LibertyBus, said that the vehicle had been operating in Jersey as a standard bus since 1994 but became a school bus in 2007.

“We have been delighted to see the bus transformed into something that will be of great benefit to the students at Haute Vallée,” she said. “We want to hear from any other charity or not-for-profit organisations who may be able to re-purpose a bus so that it can still be used by the community even though it has been taken off the roads.”​

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