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The SLA Resources Blog is designed to highlight new resources which we at the SLA think may be of interest to school librarians and to others working in related fields. The blog is available at and can also be read via an RSS feed at

Older blog posts are still available, though archived, on the website, but please check the date at the top of the post to make sure the offer or information is likely to be valid.

Alzheimer's Resources

ARUK Brain Box ImageNational Schools Partnership are excited to introduce you to Brain Box, a new flexible curriculum-linked learning programme brought to you by the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, that helps students aged 11 to 14 explore the most complex structure in the universe - the human brain.

With real-world examples of science in action, students will develop scientific enquiry skills and get a taste of what it’s like to be a brain scientist whilst learning about the effects diseases like Alzheimer’s can have upon a healthy brain.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, so now is the perfect time for your students to lift the lid on brain science!

Download your free education resources today and inspire our next generation of scientists here today:

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Not too big, not too small; effectively matching students to the right reading material

A guest blog from Sue Murray at

We all remember how, for Goldilocks, the first bowl of porridge was too hot, the second too cold but the last one was just right. Getting the right ‘fit’ is always a challenge. Similarly, when it comes to education and literacy, are we correctly matching each child’s reading ability to the right books?

At a time when the quality of our textbooks is being scrutinised and we continue to slip down the international league tables (The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)) we know officials are asking the same question.

For teachers and librarians this has long been a concern.  They  realize that if Year 6 pupils are presented with reading materials at a level of complexity above their reading ability, absorbing the information could be quite challenging, and could result in frustration – frustration that could result in children losing their love of books. Conversely, materials written significantly below a pupil’s ability level may mean that, in the absence of challenge, the pace learning and improvement in standards is limited.  In other words, high levels of frustration are counter-productive to reading growth and lead to a fear of reading, while reading texts at too low a level mean that students will not be challenged and are unlikely to grow their literacy skills.

For years, in an effort to solve this problem school books have been leveled according to the 11 ‘book bands’ used in primary schools. There are several issues with this model.  The first lies in the fact that each publisher applies the band based on their own assessment of their reading material. This subjectivity means that there is often little continuity between publishers’ series.  In other words, one book at Book Band X may actually be much more complex than the text at the same Book Band from another series. So if a child arrives at a school having previously used another reading scheme, the effort to match the student to the right level may result in an inaccurate match.  The difficulty is even more pronounced if a child arrives at school from overseas where they don’t use the UK book bands, and thus there’s no accurate way to match the student to the appropriate level of text.  Furthermore, after a child reaches Key Stages 3 and 4, book bands no longer apply. What is an educator to do? There is a solution.

Enter the Lexile Measure. The Lexile metric can be applied to both students and texts allowing for a scientifically sound, objective by design, match between a pupil’s ability and text difficulty. A wide variety of assessment companies now report a student’s Lexile measure; and many textbook and trade book publishers measure their titles using the Lexile metric. Thus a pupil that has received her own Lexile measure can easily find books of interest at just the right difficulty. This single metric removes the subjectivity and confusion of multiple competing schemes, replacing it with an objective scale for gauging a pupil’s growth.

In fact, more than 200 publishers across the world, such as Scholastic and McGraw Hill, are now utilising the Lexile reading measure.  

The Lexile Framework is not another test or a reading intervention program, and best of all, the Lexile Framework adds value to classroom assessments – adding more information, not more testing time.

The Lexile Framework was recently applied to both the 2016 Reading Test SATs and to available textbooks for primary and secondary pupils. The findings of these two studies suggest that there is a disconnect between the classroom materials available for pupils and the difficulty of the assessments. In both cases the assessment material was found to be more challenging than the textbooks. In fact, there was a substantial (300L) difference between the median textbook measure for Year 6 and the Key Stage 2 test. By tying day-to-day work in the classroom through the library books read, to critical high-stakes tests, the Lexile Framework offers a “big picture” view of growth of student reading ability from preschool through to adult learning.
So the question is, do librarians have enough information about each book to be able to match each student with published material correctly aligned to their own reading level? If we are to improve our standards in British schools we must intelligently and accurately align publishers’ materials with each student’s reading level so that in turn, teachers and librarians can assign the appropriate books to each child.

For further information on the Lexile Framework for Reading and a list of more than 200 publishers using the measure, please visit

* The study was based on textbooks written specifically for the new 2015 National Curriculum. If textbooks written specifically for the new curriculum were not yet available or in reprint, textbooks deemed still appropriate for the curriculum by their publisher were included.


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Cogheart and news from Usborne

Cogheart CoverSign up to Usborne's librarian newsletter at

Usborne have just launched Cogheart by Peter Bunzl (ISBN 9781474915007) -   #cogheart

Be swept away by airships and flabbergasted by dastardly plots in this extraordinary and wildly imaginative debut, bursting with invention and adventure.

"Some secrets change the world in a heartbeat".

13 year-old Lily has no idea why her father has worked so hard to keep her identity a secret. Having exhausted any number of governesses, Lily has been sent to the crumbling red-brick institution of Miss Octavia Scrimshaw's Finishing Academy for young ladies, under the tutelage of The Kraken, a formidable witch of a woman who thinks young ladies should concentrate on learning to stand up straight and deport themselves properly. Lily would far rather be reading the Penny Dreadful's her father sends her in his monthly care packages, learning piracy and air combat but when Lily's inventor father vanishes after a Zeppelin crash, Lily is determined to hunt down the truth behind his disappearance.

Helped by Robert, the local clockmaker's son, and her wily mechanical fox Malkin she finds herself deep in a mystery she could never have forseen. But shadowy figures are closing in and treachery lurks among the smoky spires of London - along with a life-changing secret.

Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Katherine Woodfine, Cogheart is a modern classic to capture the hearts of readers.

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Getting the Best Start in Life

Online careers resource provides job information at the touch of a button. A free careers software is about to change the way careers guidance is carried out in schools and at home.

Start, developed by careers guidance company U-Explore, provides access to comprehensive information for teachers, parents and students. Designed to help young people connect ideas, interests and aspirations to jobs and educational pathways, Start offers independent, impartial and innovative careers support.

At the heart of the software is a job bank which includes more than 1,600 jobs providing detailed information on the qualifications required, typical salaries and the user’s own suitability for the role. Linked to this is live market information, showing open opportunities in the student’s locality, enabling young people to get a real indication of the current labour market and job availability.

As the name suggests, Start enables a young person to begin anywhere; a favourite subject; an area of interest; a place to study; or a job aspiration. Users create a personal profile based on their qualities, skills and work preferences and the unique profiling technology matches them to jobs which correspond to their personality.
Start can be accessed in and out of schools by teachers, parents and young people. Visit for more information.  Below is a new White Paper which has been released recently that discusses the future of careers guidance and software within the sector.

Start White Paper

PDF file, 285 kB

Requires Adobe Reader

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National Young Writers' Awards

Nywa LogoNational Young Writers' Awards - a fantastic, free writing competition for children across the UK, judged by best-selling author of the Charlie & Lola, Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort books, Lauren Child and organised by tuition provider, Explore Learning.  There's a wonderful prize of a family trip to Disneyland Paris and £500 worth of books for their school up for grabs .  The theme this year is ‘The Mash-Up’ where children are encouraged to write a 500 word story that is a ‘mash-up’ of two genres.

The FREE competition is open to children all over the UK aged 14 and under and the closing date is Tuesday 7th June.  Children can enter by filling out an application form from their nearest Explore Learning centre, online at, or simply write your story and download the entrance slip and post it to NYWA, Explore Learning, 74 North Street, Guildford, GU1 4AW.

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The Lollies - are you taking part?

Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book

  • Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien
  • Slug Needs a Hug by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross
  • Gracie Grabbit and the Tiger by Helen Stephens
  • I Need a Wee! by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds

  • Badly Drawn Beth by Jem Packer and Duncan McCoshan
  • Wilf the Mighty Worrier: Saves the World by Georgia Pritchett and Jamie Littler
  • The Jolley-Rogers and the Cave of Doom by Jonny Duddle
  • Thorfinn the Nicest Viking and the Awful Invasion by David MacPhail and Richard Morgan

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds.

  • Danger is Still Everywhere: Beware of the Dog by David O’Doherty and Chris Judge
  • Petunia Perry and the Curse of the Ugly Pigeon by Pamela Butchart and Gemma Correll
  • Emily Sparkes and the Friendship Fiasco by Ruth Fitzgerald
  • The Parent Agency by David Baddiel and Jim Field

Scholastic now invites all schools to get involved and vote. Children will decide the ultimate winners in each of the categories by submitting a class vote on the Lollies website, The winning books will be announced at a gala awards ceremony in London in June.

The Lollies were launched last October as a result of Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report™ ( which revealed that nearly two thirds of children aged 6-17 say that when choosing books to read for fun, they want “books that make me laugh.”

The Lollies website will be open for voting from February 8th at Schools can register a class vote for their chosen winner in any, or all of the three categories. Voting closes on the 10th June 2016.

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Siobhan Dowd Trust Competition 2016

The Siobhan Dowd Trust was set up by the author Siobhan Dowd to use the income from her work to bring stories to the children that need them most.  The Trust have funded many small projects throughout the UK and love to get books into the hands of young readers. In 2016 the trust are funding an opportunity for schools and groups who work with disadvantaged young people to apply for a series of small grants to be spent in local independent bookshops.

The amount awarded in each UK region will total £1000.
Please see for further details & how to apply, or on Twitter follow @sdowdtrust 

The first deadline is 30th June in Scotland, NE region, NW region and Yorkshire & Humberside

2016 School Comp PDF

PDF file, 185 kB

Requires Adobe Reader

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ePlatform and eBook lending

Eplatform ScreenThe eBook lending platform that's enabling more students to discover the joy of reading

With its focus on reader engagement and features that improve literacy – ePlatform is an eBook lending platform capturing imaginations in over 1,000 schools and libraries across the UK and worldwide.

This is the most cost effective solution on the market – spend more of your budget on eBooks, not hosting. A one touch Reading App makes it easy to read eBooks anytime, anywhere – even offline. ePlatform offers more than 350,000 titles including the latest UK and international best sellers and Collection Builder compilations (lists of most borrowed titles in schools like yours) for easy collection development and Consortium features are available.

But it's the additional features that are grabbing attention. ePlatform offers customisable settings to enhance the reading experience for students with reading challenges like dyslexia. Students can vary the font, background colour, look up the meaning of unfamiliar words and use internet links to learn more.

Along with Accelerated Reader these features are opening up the world of reading to reluctant readers. Mirfield Free Grammar School says "Reluctant readers are more engaged for longer periods than they would be with a book. They are less likely to become distracted. The opportunity for students to customise their reading matter to make it more accessible to their individual needs means there is a whole new range of books available to them. Students feel empowered as they see barriers being removed. Students with SEND needs are starting to enjoy reading again!"

Of course being digital means that there is no question of damage to or loss of books. With complete control over loans, age restrictions, reporting functions and support – everything's at your fingertips.

Learn more at
Or contact: Rachel Lindsay, ePlatform Business Development Manager, UK
Tel: 07971 661782
Email: rachel[at]

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