Student in library

National online classroom partners with National Literacy Trust (@Literacy_Trust) to provide free digital library 

Much-loved children’s authors offering free electronic copies of their work on weekly basis

Oak National Academy, the country’s online classroom set up in response to Covid-19, is today launching a new virtual library in partnership with The National Literacy Trust. This will provide free access to books for children across the UK as we go into the third national lockdown.  

The launch of the free digital library comes as over 2.2 million pupils accessed the online school in the first week of term, taking part in over 15 million lessons after measures were taken to close schools across the UK to the majority of children on the first day of term. 

The Virtual School Library hosts free reading and writing content from much-loved children’s authors - providing a free-to-access book every week from the platform’s author of the week. 

Dame Jacqueline Wilson DBE’s The Story of Tracy Beaker, illustrated by Nick Sharratt (Penguin Random House Children’s UK) is the first book to feature and will be entirely free to access and read for a week from 11th January. 

Jacqueline Wilson, author of The Story of Tracy Beaker, Hetty Feather and the first author of the week in the Virtual School Library, said: 

“I’m thrilled to be the first author of the week on the new Virtual School Library from the National Literacy Trust and Oak National Academy.  I think it’s vitally important that every child should have an opportunity to access books.  As most schools - and their libraries - are closed at the moment the free online library is needed more than ever. 

“I try to write about interesting sparky characters in realistic settings, so I hope readers will be able to relate to their situations and develop a lifelong love of reading.” 

Other upcoming titles include Cookie and the Most Annoying Boy in the World, written by Konnie Huq (Piccadilly Press), which explores a girl's passion for science, as well as books from authors including Jeremy Strong and longstanding publishing partners Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross.

The initiative aims to increase access to ebooks and audiobooks for the most disadvantaged young readers during school closures and support the literacy of children most adversely affected by COVID-19. Research by The National LiteracyTrust during the initial school closures in 2020 found that almost 1 in 2 (46.3%) children said that they had read new books during lockdown and 1 in 7 (14.1%) had re-read books they have at home. 

The research found that children reported the benefits of reading for children during the pandemic to be significant, with 3 in 5 (59.3%) children and young people saying that reading makes them feel better and 3 in 10 (31.6%) that reading helps them when they feel sad because they cannot see their family and friends. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: 

“Oak National Academy is an invaluable remote education resource, with 10,000 video lessons available across a broad range of subjects. The programme has provided fantastic support for schools and teachers. 

“While schools are closed for the majority of pupils, the learning and development of children must continue. Reading is hugely beneficial not only for children’s literacy skills, but also their mental health and wellbeing. This virtual library is a fantastic resource for children to access a free book every week from a range of wonderful authors. 

“I would like to thank Oak and the National Literacy Trust for all they are doing, and I hope many families enjoy the access to such a huge choice of good books.” 

Matt Hood OBE, Principal of Oak National Academy, said:
“Reading is such a fundamental part of a child’s development. Access to books, like technology, is not a given for many of our most disadvantaged pupils. 

“We know a love of reading starts with access to books. With millions of children learning with Oak National Academy over the first week of term, it’s incredible to be able to add to our offer something vital for children’s literacy and their mental wellbeing. 

“We’re thrilled to be working with The National Literacy Trust on such an exciting project to make much needed access to books freely available to children, families and schools.” 

Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, comments:
“The Virtual School Library is a fantastic tool for children, families and educators. We are entering another extremely difficult time and Oak Academy’s infrastructure and reach is essential for allowing as many children as possible to access a world of great literature.   

“It is an honour to launch with Jacqueline Wilson, who is renowned for her ability to engage children and adults alike in a love of reading. We are working with a range of excellent authors and publishers over the year to inspire and entertain children. 

“Many children’s literacy skills were profoundly affected by the first lockdown and school closures. We will do everything in our power to support children, families and teachers during this new lockdown period.” 


You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page