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    School Library for the Curriculum cover

Q&A: Sally Dring

18 November 2019 Share

Six Questions for Sally Dring, author of A School Library for the Curriculum: Facilitating Teaching and Learning.

The modern school librarian encourages reading for pleasure and also supports teaching and learning across the curriculum, both of which areas are highly complex and frequently overlap. This timely publication focuses on the many and varied ways school librarians can support the staff and pupils in schools, by providing the resources and skills they need to successfully negotiate the constantly changing curriculum. This includes innovative approaches such as organising events such as creative writing sessions or hosting quizzes to enhance literacy across the curriculum – to achieve the best possible results for each individual. Excellent appendices include: a sample subject department scheme of work; the PLUS model for research in action; detailed case studies on Science in the Media and Geography and Literacy; and a sample resource recording grid.

1)    What is your current role?

I have been Learning Resources Manager at Ripon Grammar School for the past 9 years.  I manage the main library and also a separate sixth form only library and study area.  I am lucky enough to have a full-time Library Assistant to work with.  I am also the school’s Literacy and Numeracy Co-ordinator – a role for which I receive Associate Senior Leadership points.


2)    What is the most recent book you have read? Did you enjoy it?


I usually have a couple of books on the go at the same time as I need to read the young adult books our students will be borrowing, as well as something for my own pleasure.  I have just finished ‘The Exact Opposite of OK’ by Laura Steven which was a fantastic read for older teens and covered the tricky topics of ‘sexting’ and how easily pictures or information can spread online.  I am also reading At Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.  I have long been aware of this classic, but have never read it before.  It’s beautifully lyrical.


3)    Tell us about your previous publications written for the SLA?

I have never completely written one of the publications before.  I worked with the previous Publications Co-ordinator, Geoff Dubber, on updating ‘Careful with Cash: Managing the Secondary School Budget’ and then I put together two collections of case studies; commissioning and co-ordinating the pieces from different authors.  They were: ‘Picking a Winner: Taking Part in Regional and National Book Awards’ and ‘Super Sixes: The Sixth Form and the School Library’.  I really enjoyed the challenges of these tasks.  I have also had a couple of articles published in The School Librarian journal.

4)    How can the school library facilitate teaching and learning across the curriculum?

Of course you are facilitating teaching and learning just by being there!  My main pieces of advice would be to be very observant (nosey) so that you know what topics are being studied and be prepared to approach people rather than waiting for others to come to you.  Teaching staff often aren’t aware of how you can help.  Also, start small!  Find one department that you feel you work well with and concentrate on that.  Word will spread….

5)    Do you think that ‘reading for pleasure’ contributes to supporting teaching and learning?


Absolutely!  To start with it develops empathy and an awareness of the world outside our own little bubbles.  However, it can also be a way of imparting information in a subtle manner…the examples in the publication show how linking a fiction book with a curriculum topic can be used effectively.  This also showcases how literacy is not just for English lessons.


6)    What innovative approaches do you recommend that links the school library to curriculum learning?


As mentioned above, linking fiction and subject areas can be very effective, particularly if you can invite an author with specialist knowledge.  If you can have the confidence to come up with a co-curricular topic and lead it in conjunction with teaching staff it will give you a new perspective on teaching and learning and with show students and teaching staff how supportive the library can be. 


It is also important to try and embed information literacy, digital literacy and research skills within subject teaching if at all possible.  You can work in a team where the teacher delivers the subject knowledge and you deliver the skills alongside.



Thank you Sally! Sally Dring was interviewed by Cathal Coyle, S.L.A. Publications Specialist. You can buy A School Library for the Curriculum: Facilitating Teaching and Learning here