The Hartley Learning Centre

Welcome to the Hartley Learning Centre. Our purpose is two-fold:

  • to support the curriculum by fostering independent learning and research through a wide range of carefully selected resources
  • to promote reading for pleasure throughout the whole school community.

We believe that life is better with books!

Our resources and how we can help

Open daily, the Hartley Learning Centre offers a supervised space as an oasis of quiet at the centre of a busy school. With over 20,000 resources, mainly books but also DVDs, we guarantee that there is something to tempt even the most tentative library user. We are keen to recommend books, drawing upon our combined years of experience in libraries, in teaching, and as passionate readers ourselves. In addition we are always pleased to receive book recommendations and reservation requests. We hope that we can pass on our enthusiasm to the students we meet at SWCHS. 

There is a wide selection of magazines, as well as daily newspapers. A suite of computers is available both for class use in lessons and for independent study and research. We offer access to tablets for quick research and a small eLibrary so that students may choose to read on-screen. Students can also access Eclipse, the online catalogue, allowing them to browse, reserve books and post their own reviews for others to share. 

Opening times and availability 

The Library is open throughout the school week, from Monday to Thursday from 8 am to 4.30 pm, and on Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. Students are able to borrow, return and renew books before school, at break, at lunch and after school. Books may be borrowed for two weeks. After school, Homework Club runs each day and provides a quiet place to keep on top of homework using all the facilities on hand. The Learning Centre Manager, the Learning Centre Assistant or a member of the Learning Support team are available to respond to queries and to recommend resources, as well as to maintain an atmosphere conducive to study. 

Library lessons and Information Literacy

All Year 7 classes receive a thorough induction into how the Learning Centre works, and fortnightly visits, for reading, borrowing and adding to the Reading Targets scrapbook, are an established part of the English curriculum in Year 7. Reading Targets are set, encouraging students to challenge themselves by engaging with a wide range of genres and formats, and responses to reading are recorded in a plethora of ways. In addition, we give guidance on information research skills as part of Year 7 library lessons, to help students to make wise choices when researching, collating and analysing information, and to avoid plagiarism.

Celebrating Literature

One of the highlights of our year in the Learning Centre is the Reading Academy Awards Evening for those students in Year 7 who have responded in the most original and committed ways to the opportunities presented to them through the Reading Targets scheme.

It is always fascinating to hear from practising writers and visiting speakers are welcomed throughout the year, to inspire the students to read more widely and to write themselves.  Recent visitors have included Mike Revell (a former SWCHS student), Mark Lowery, Simon Scarrow, Deborah Chancellor and Victor Watson.

SWCHS is fortunate to have its own Reading Patron, Clare Mulley, a prize-winning biographer and historian, whose work includes ‘The Spy Who Loved’, her acclaimed biography of Christine Granville, one of Britain’s bravest wartime secret agents. Clare regularly visits to promote reading to students throughout the school. 

Book Club meets fortnightly during Wednesday lunchtimes. In recent months we have ‘shadowed’ the books nominated for both the Essex and the CILIP Carnegie Book Awards, and at the suggestion of the students are looking forward to announcing our own SWCHS shortlist in the autumn term!

Student Librarian Scheme

From Year 7 onwards, students are able to volunteer as Student Librarians, and their assistance is invaluable at break and lunchtime, helping with a range of tasks. Some older students choose to serve as Student Librarians to fulfil the service requirements of their Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme as well as to gain useful work experience for their CVs. 

Just twenty minutes spent reading each day adds up to over 120 hours a year! Considering that ‘reading is to the mind as exercise is to the body’ (Sir Richard Steele), there can be few better investments of time.