School Readiness Plan

The Bradford Libraries School Readiness Plan was produced in July 2021.It was developed to meet the needs of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2019 which is aimed at ensuring children arrive at school, ready to learn, flourish and achieve, in order to get the most benefit from education the plan will be implemented by Bradford Library Services on a yearly basis. The Plan sets out the Libraries services for Universal, 1001 Critical Days Targeted and Pre-School and Beyond Targeted offers.

The challenge

One of the biggest challenges identified by the Bradford Public Health Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (2019) is making sure children arrive at school ready to learn, flourish, and achieve to get the most benefit from education.
Libraries play a huge role in the early stages of children’s lives. Having a library card is often one of the first examples of citizenship that a child undertakes. When they visit a library for rhyme time or story time, this can be among one of the first cultural events they have attended. 
If libraries can involve parents early and create a culture where communication, language and reading skills are highly valued, we can support all children to be successful lifelong learners. Libraries are uniquely positioned to provide rich learning opportunities that support school readiness through their rhyme times, story times and activities programmes, offering high-quality language and learning environments for young children and their caregivers. The emphasis on enjoyment and not targeted areas of learning encourages parents and families to have fun, relax and take advantage of some quality time to interact with their child in a safe, neutral library environment.

The solution

Bradford Libraries developed a written plan to outline current work and add developmental ideas to support children’s school readiness in Bradford. The Bradford Libraries School Readiness Plan was put in place in July 2021. The plan was laid out in three sections:

  • Universal Library Service Offer for children 0-5 and their parents/carers – includes Rhyme times & Story times, special projects, stock, events, Bookstart packs, incentive schemes, and resources such as story sacks/number sacks. Development opportunities for this section include: making story sacks loanable to the public and reviewing stock around diversity and inclusion.
  • 1001 Critical Days Targeted Offer – Pre-natal to 24 months and their parent/carers – includes specific sessions and Bookstart packs. 
  • Development opportunities for this section include auto-enrolment of babies to library membership via registration services.
  • Pre-School & Beyond Targeted Offer – 25 months to 60 months + and their parent/carers – includes Love Books, Love Libraries course, online active story times, Bookstart packs, Great Start Bags, nursery class visits. Development opportunities for this section include the new Booktrust targeted offer for children living in low IMD areas.

The impact

The Impacts will be evaluated at the end of July 2022.  So far, the plan has been distributed to Children’s Services Early Help & Prevention, Bradford Council Public Health Team and other interested parties, including Speech & Language Therapists, Toddler Group Associations etc.  The plan has received good feedback from all.

Update on developmental work:

  • 50 Story sacks now made loanable to the public
  • stock reviewed and additions made around inclusion and diversity, including dual language books.
  • work has started on an integrated local offer for families from Libraries & Children’s Services
  • auto-enrolment for all new-borns has been provisionally agreed upon.

How is the new approach being sustained

The work is carried out by the Development Officer, Early Years and a part time Bookstart Development Officer Support Assistant. The Development Officer, Early Years post is funded from the base budget from Bradford Council. The part time Bookstart Development Officer Support Assistant.

Many of the initiatives are funded by Children’s Services via the Early Help and Prevention Service.

Lessons learned

In retrospect it will be great to involve more interested parties in the future development of the plan. 


Susan Brewster-Craig

Bradford Libraries, Development Officer

01274 433684