Spotlight on the Hamp Library

The Hamp Library, named in memory of F. Robin Hamp OBE, Governor of Colfe’s from 1967-1984 and Chairman of Governors from 1978-1982, is at the heart of the senior school site. Staffed by a full-time qualified Librarian and part-time Library Assistant, the library houses almost 14,000 books with a collection reflecting an impressive diversity of authors and covering almost every possible genre of fiction and non-fiction. The space itself is a spacious and airy double-height room with central tables surrounded by shelving and smaller desk areas, while its mezzanine level has carrels for private study and is also home to the careers service and Head of Careers’ office.  

During the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) inspection of Colfe’s, the Hamp Library was highlighted as a key strength of the school. The ISI report lavished praise on all aspects of Colfe’s provision for wellbeing, but the library received a special mention for the pastoral benefits it provides as well as those for academic enrichment:  

The insightful management of the main library with its calm, welcoming atmosphere promotes this space as a daily focal point for many pupils, including before and after the school day. Staff support pupils, who benefit from the extensive, up-to-date resources available for independent research and quiet reading. As a result, pupils engage positively with each other, reflecting on all aspects of school life, as well as their studies. 

Library lessons are a regular part of the English curriculum; all pupils between Years 7-9 have a fortnightly lesson, with reading challenges set each year, from Reading round the World (books set in different parts of the world) to Reading Through Time (different historical periods). As pupils begin their GCSE courses in Year 10, formal lessons decrease but continue as a very popular occasional lesson. Sixth Formers continue to enjoy the library for research and reading for pleasure, as well as use the study carrels. 

It also plays host to a number of extra-curricular activities, including Book Club, House Jigsaw competitions, and Library Club, a club filled with games and laughter and which is particularly helpful for new Year 7 pupils to get to know members of other forms. Librarian Henrietta Englefield also organises teams for several competitions and quizzes across the UK, with highly impressive results. The Colfe’s team took home the National Reading Champions trophy in both 2022 and 2023 and has won the CWIZZ Quiz several times. 

The praise from the ISI reflects the appreciation that pupils have of the library:  

“I love the library, the books and the opportunities that come from just walking past the shelves. There are also a range of clubs and competitions that I love entering. It’s definitely my favourite place in the school.“ Leila, Y9 

“The library at Colfe’s is a wonderful place for anyone, whether you’re there to read, study or even if you’re looking for a place full of kind and interesting people.” Oskar, Y12 

“The Colfe’s Library is a wonderful place to go to study, read, do a puzzle or just meet like-minded people.” Chloe, Y8 

“I’ve loved the library’s access to a wide range of books, and willingness to constantly update their collection, as well as the variety of clubs and competitions they host, such as the book quiz.” Alexandra, Y12 

Colfe’s Librarian Henrietta Englefield said, “The intention of Colfe’s Library has always been to develop and increase reading for pleasure, both to enrich pupils’ learning and to enhance their wellbeing. The benefits of reading on academic progress are well known, but the Library also provides a uniquely calming and safe environment where pupils can switch off from the bustle of the day, regather and rejuvenate. It is such an important place for our pupils so it’s gratifying that an independent body such as the ISI recognises its particular pastoral value.” 

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