Thinking about Cheney?

Meet Mrs Fenton, our librarian. She can tell you about the library service and the importance of reading at Cheney School.

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"I like the library very much, I spend all of my break time in there"

Year 7 student


We expect all learners to be reading for 20 minutes every day. Not only does it have huge benefits in preparing learners academically by developing concentration, growing memory, and improving analytical skills, but it also is an excellent way for students to reduce stress and relax after a long day of learning.

"There is a range of different activities which support pupils who join the school with weak literacy skills" - Ofsted 2018

Sometimes students can be reluctant to read; if you find your child becoming a reluctant reader, try these three steps to help re-instate their love of reading.

1)      Make sure they catch you reading - This is particularly pertinent for boys: they need to see male role models reading if they are to become successful readers.

2)      Read with them - Learners will really enjoy discussing with you what they have read. It also gives you opportunity to talk to your child about unfamiliar words, or any important information that arises from the book. By doing this, you will model that reading doesn't have to be taken too seriously. You can have fun and read at the same time.

3)      Get creative - Learners do not need to be reading big Victorian tomes. Some students want to read the classics, and that is absolutely fabulous. But if you find yourself with a reluctant reader, try engaging them with an ebook, or a graphic novel, or even news articles on the internet. All reading is beneficial, especially if it gives students the opportunity to come across new words. It's great to read!

If you have any questions about reading or want guidance on how to read with your children, engage them in reading, or re-enthuse them please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Rebecca Taylor, Head of English

Literacy and the wider curriculum

Students at Cheney school are encouraged regularly to check their work, using purple pen, using the layers of the onion as a guide. This is to help students become truly reflective when it comes to the accuracy of their writing. There is an Onion poster up in every classroom in the school.

Encouraging boys to read

There is a known challenge within Schools relating to encouraging boys to read more. The National Literacy Trust has noted that girls continue to outpace boys in their enthusiasm for reading for pleasure. Their latest study also found that nearly twice as many boys as girls said they do not enjoy reading at all, by 13% to 7%. The Guardian published a great article this week, and we have pulled out some key points here:

  • Find writers boys can relate to - finding local writers online, with ideas they will relate to, worries they will share, voices they can recognise and characters that they understand.
  • Get Dad reading - The best role models seem to be dads, sports coaches and athletes, men the boys aspire to be. If they experience these men reading and sharing their love of books (any kind of books) then reading is not seen as a female occupation.
  • Inspire boys at home - It is often hard to find texts that both parents and teenagers can enjoy together. Reading a series of themed ‘classics’ such as all the James Bond novels, coupled with a weekly pizza and film night is a great way to create a scheduled time in the week without distractions when everyone in the family reads.
  • Think about it like sport - Explaining to boys that improving their reading is like sports training or playing an instrument can do the trick: they acknowledge the effort that needs to go into these kinds of activities; knowing the brain is like a muscle that can be trained can often help. The advice I give to parents for reading at home is to find factual subjects boys might be into: sport, cars, music, computers, science; then buy a broadsheet newspaper on the day they read their specialist pull-outs. The interest in content will drive the reading which is often lengthy, with sophisticated levels of vocabulary and sentence structure.
  • Build trust - Throughout the year, choose one of your reluctant readers every week and find a book or magazine or newspaper article about one of his interests. Read things that tap into their interests and, most importantly, be patient.

The Library

Cheney library plays a central role in the life of the school and is a vibrant, friendly facility that enhances and supports learning across the curriculum. It also offers a welcoming environment for students who are looking for a place to read, or work quietly or to retreat momentarily from the rigours of the school day.

Opening Hours

8.00am to 5.00pm Monday - Thursday

8.00am - 3.30pm Friday

The library remains open beyond the end of the school day to support students with revision and homework.


During lessons, the library is used for reading lessons and for sixth form study.

The Library Team

Mrs Fenton, Librarian

Ms Hurton, Library Assistant

Student librarians (appointed each September)

What you will find in the library
Fiction books

We currently have approximately 9500 fiction books, catering for a wide range of reading abilities. The selection includes the latest teen fiction, quick reads, Manga/graphic novels, classics, a selection of older fiction books and all set texts. Mrs Fenton has an extensive knowledge of teen fiction and is on hand to help students with their book choice.

Non-fiction books

There is a wide selection of non-fiction titles, which support every subject on the school curriculum, with a particular emphasis on extended study projects. For Sixth Form students, there is a complete selection of A’ Level and BTEC textbooks and the librarian can enable access to the library at Brookes University. There is also an extensive selection of revision guides available for use in the library.


We have around 150 age-appropriate DVDs available for students to borrow. The selection includes DVDs supporting the curriculum (Shakespeare etc.) as well as many films just for leisure.

Computer access

We have 42 computers for student use at lunch and break time. There are two black and white printers/copiers.

Stationery to buy

We have stationery and maths equipment to buy

Library catalogue

Students can access the library catalogue through RM Unify. This enables them to search the shelves, choose and reserve books.

New Stock and Donations
New Stock

We are always delighted to receive recommendations for new stock and students should email Mrs Fenton with their suggestions.


We are often asked if we accept donations of second hand books and DVDs. The answer to this is "it depends what it is". We have to be careful to make sure that books donated are ones that the students will actually want to read. If you have a book you want to donate, the best judge of whether it will be used is your own child, so ask them.  Below is a list of popular authors and titles that will always be well-received.  If you have DVDs you wish to pass on, it's best to email Mrs Fenton to check whether she already has them in her collection. With DVDs, they have to be in good condition, rated no more than 12 and preferably with a book tie-in.

See below for a suggestion of books:

  • Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  • The Cherub series by Robert Muchamore
  • The Once series by Morris Gleitzman
  • The Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens
  • Any teen romance books published in the past few years (we can’t catalogue these quickly enough!)
  • Anything by Holly Bourne or Cat Clarke
  • Recent biographies (bear in mind the target audience – footballers, boxers, you-tubers, celebrities that might appeal to teenagers)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – the most popular book in Cheney library!
  • Any recently published young adult fiction – email Mrs Fenton to check
Cheney Book Canon

The aim of the Cheney Book Canon is to raise the profile of reading across the school and to encourage a common culture and dialogue through books and reading. This is a long term initiative and the intention is for everyone in each year group to read the same book – staff included.

At the beginning of January 2020, students voted on their favourite book for their year group to adopt and the results were announced on World Book Day in March. Each of the chosen books has a strong supporting message that lends itself to further analysis and discussion in class – the themes range from empathy for others to appreciation of the refugee crisis. A lot of thought was put into the short list in order to ensure that the books that were chosen are representative of Cheney’s diverse culture and we are confident that the final list achieves this aim.

There are multiple copies of each of the books available through the library.

Accelerated Reader

Accelerated Reader is a programme that all students in year 7 follow. It is used to encourage and monitor students’ reading and to establish a reading habit that will hopefully carry on as students move further up the school.

Star Test and Reading Range

Each half term students take a Star Test, which establishes their Reading Range. This range is a set of two numbers, which denote the difficult of a book. For example, students may have a reading range of 3.9 – 5.9 and they will be encouraged to read books that are between that level. Books in the school library are marked up with the appropriate level to enable students to choose quickly.

Students can also search on the library software for all the books in their reading range by putting the two numbers of the reading range in the Accelerated Reader part of the advanced search. The numbers should be separated by two dots (“..”).


After a student finishes his/her book, they should take a reading practice quiz. Normally, students can take the quiz at school only but in the event of a lockdown occurring, this restriction will be lifted and students will be able to quiz from home. The expectation is that every student should take a reading quiz at least every two weeks, depending on the length of the book.

Accessing Accelerated Reader

There is a link to AR on the RM Unify Launchpad. Students should contact Mrs Fenton if they have forgotten their username/password.

Reading a book from home?

Use the AR Book Finder to check whether it has a quiz and what the book level and word count is.

Using the library during lockdown

In the event that students are off school, they will still be able to access the library by using the library software. We will run a click and collect service through the school reception. The library software is accessed through RM Unify.

Any questions?

Should parents/carers have any specific questions on their child’s progress on AR or on book choice, then please contact their English teacher or Mrs Fenton (the school librarian) who will be happy to help. There is also a Tips for supporting quizzing from home document available online.

At KS3 all other students are encouraged to use the library to support their weekly reading lessons, which happen in the classroom.