Hartburn Primary School’s outdoor reading area – made possible via a donation from PD Ports – has been hailed a “fantastic” success after having a positive effect on literacy levels among its youngest pupils.
Around 300 of the Stockton school’s nursery, reception and Key Stage 1 pupils under the age of seven have had access to a newly resourced outdoor reading area for the past year.
The £5,000 green oasis, which allows youngsters to read while outdoors, features artificial grass and an array of wigwams, tables, chairs and canopies.
The project was made possible by fundraising through the ‘Friends of Hartburn Primary School’ volunteers group and a £1,500 donation from PD Ports’ Find It Fund It scheme.
The scheme, which has been running at PD Ports for more than 10 years’ is aimed at supporting staff and their families with pursuits and interests outside of work through financial donations, with the aim of improving local communities and social wellbeing.
PD Ports’ PR and communications manager, Kirsten Donkin, has two young sons who attend Hartburn Primary and it is through this connection that Kirsten successfully applied for the funds.
“Our donation to Hartburn Primary is a valuable way to help the school and its youngest children throughout their vital early years’ development,” said Kirsten.
“Our Find It Fund It scheme at PD Ports makes me immensely proud to be part of a responsible business that recognises the needs and interests of its workforce and provides support through the likes of this scheme to make a positive difference in society,” she added.
The school’s English lead Jo Brown says the reading area is widely used and is already having a big impact on how often children are sharing and reading books.
“We are really grateful to all of our parents for their fundraising efforts and to PD Ports for their kind donation,” she said.
“As a school we are always trying to encourage reading for pleasure, as the benefits of reading go far beyond educational outcomes.
“Children who are more easily distracted or that struggle to settle and concentrate within the confines of the classroom feel more at ease and better able to focus on the book if they are allowed the opportunity to experience reading outside in the open.
“That has certainly proved the case with us. We are delighted with this year’s results but also with the love for reading that has developed through creating this fantastic area. Our Key Stage 2 pupils are also keen to use the reading area to share books with the younger children too.”
PD Ports owns and operates Teesport, one the deepest water ports in the UK. The firm is a key driver in the North-East economy and one of the region’s largest employers.