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SLA Blog » September 2012RSS Feed RSS

The SLA blog contains news about the SLA and topical information of general interest to our members. The blog has been running since 2004. An RSS 2.0 feed and information about how to subscribe to the blog are available.

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.

Careful With Cash - just published

Careful With CashCareful With Cash: Managing the Secondary School Library Budget is a new title in the SLA's series of key guides for the busy librarian.

If you are fuming over your finance, boasting about your budgets or simply very careful with cash, this new book should help you. It is full of good ideas, step-by-step planning guidance, updated figures from schools around the UK and some very useful case studies written by school librarians on the front line who have anonymously shared the secrets of their budgets.

Managing your money at this time of recession is an essential skill and this great value Guideline will help you to make every penny count!

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MP Visits SLA Offices

Fiona Hardcastle (Dorcan Academy), Tricia Adams, Justin Hamilton, Geoff Dubber and Alison Slaven (Nova Hreod School)
Fiona Hardcastle (Dorcan Academy), Tricia Adams, Justin Tomlinson MP,
Geoff Dubber and Alison Slaven (Nova Hreod School)

We were delighted to welcome our local MP, Justin Tomlinson, to our Swindon office today.  Justin is MP for Swindon North, the constituency our Kembrey Park offices are in, and also the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries.  After a brief tour of the new offices Justin joined the staff and invited school librarians for a coffee and a lively discussion about school libraries.  Justin shared an anecdote from his school days when he was a student librarian, and we had a wide ranging discussion about the current situation in school libraries, the importance of reading and the introduction of eBooks, as well as touching on the upcoming lobby of Parliament in October.

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SLYA Profile - Gill Trueman

We present the last candidate on the School Librarian of the Year Honour List. The winner will be announced at the award ceremony on 1 October 2012 - watch the website for details. We hope you will find reading about these exemplary librarians interesting.

Gill Trueman

Library and Information Manager
Peasedown St John Primary School, near Bath
(www.peasedownstjohnprimary.org.uk )

Gill TruemanGill Trueman’s unique style is all over the library at 500-pupil Peasedown St John primary school, from the hand-embroidered Welcome sign to the seaweed curtains and treasure chests for indexes and returned books (the Key Stage 2 library has a pirates and sea theme).

It was this opportunity for creativity and self-expression that drew the former university and BBC librarian to the school in 2004 after a career break to bring up her two daughters.

“I had always enjoying working in the education sector and I had thought I might return to universities, but what I had seen of the primary environment with my children showed me that there was room for enthusiasm and fun in learning. Also I had so enjoyed sharing books with my children. It was a way to use my library and creative skills in a way that I could really see the impact.

“I spent three years managing libraries at the World Service and trying to work out how to charge producers for research time and resources and it was very frustrating. In school I might deal with something tricky such as integrating APP (Assessing Pupil Progress) but I can see the point of it.

“I feel that I am doing something that directly benefits the children and my work is highly valued by the staff.”

Gill’s undergraduate degree is in music and she is a singer and flautist. Her projects with pupils might include a “research rap” sung to the beat of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.

After graduation, she worked for a year in Reading University library before postgraduate librarianship studies at Loughborough. Two years at the BBC sports library followed before the move to the World Service. “I enjoy having a fresh take on things and every day bringing something new, so the BBC job appealed.”

When her family relocated to Bristol, Gill worked in a sixth-form college library (“It felt like it was an era of technological change although at the time that meant a CD-ROM tower. I enjoy the same kind of challenges in school now”). Her first encounter with primary schools was as a parent. Her initial ten paid hours a week at Peasedown St John have increased to 30 as her role has expanded, notably through timetabled library lessons for Years 3 to 5 in which she teaches research skills, information literacy and e-safety. She also team teaches with class teachers and involves class teachers in her planning so that they can reinforce information literacy across the curriculum.

“We’ve been teaching Web2.0 tools and social media skills to Year 5 for two years now particularly focusing on e-safety guidelines. It’s giving the children really solid experience.

“I was asked to develop information literacy as part of the school’s 2020Vision curriculum to give the children the skills they will need in the future. For me that is one of the two columns of library provision, developing children’s reading enjoyment and helping them form their personal taste, and teaching them how to access knowledge.”

Gill Trueman with pupilsGill’s colleagues credit her with creating a reading ethos in the school, building pupils’ enthusiasm through author visits and her own tireless search for the right reading material for each child. Her lunchtime Chill’n’Read book clubs (with music) are so popular that she has had to restrict pupils to attending once a week. She relishes the moments when a child asks her for the next book in a series that is hitting the spot. The teaching staff make her their first port of call for sourcing resources. Joint headteacher David Tilling, who nominated Gill for the SLYA, cites this as one way in which employing a librarian can save a primary school time and money.

The “Great Library Sea” theme of the Key Stage 2 library is a response to the layout of the library, in what was once the old Victorian school hall. Constantly updated display boards showcase work from pupils’ library sessions. There is a minibeast-themed library for Key Stage 1 in a conservatory area which was added to the building shortly before Gill arrived. All pupils from Reception up have class visits to the library and can borrow two books at a time. Gill has a team of pupil librarians (“Treasure Seekers”) from Years 4, 5 and 6 and two trained regular parent volunteers.

Gill is currently working with the ICT team to develop the school’s new website and virtual learning environment through which she hopes to boost parental involvement. She has set up a regular mobile library visit just before the end of the school day so that parents can use it at first alone and then with their children.

Gill networks as much as possible, partly through her local School Library Association group through which she is researching possible author visits. She also enjoyed the Summer 2012 SLA/YLG/SLG weekend course. “I came back with so many ideas, including a Winnie the Witch birthday party and a plan for a Readathon scheme with Years 5 and 6 which I am talking to teachers about. It’s important to get out there and find out what’s available to us.”

She also belongs to another local schools networking group which sounds as if it might have been designed for her: Enthusiasts Must Unite.

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DfE Key Stage 4 Consultation

DfE KS4In the core academic subjects that make up the English Baccalaureate - English, mathematics, sciences, history, geography and languages – the Government intends to replace current GCSE with new qualifications, to be called “English Baccalaureate Certificates”.  The Government will be moving away from the competition between Awarding Organisations to sell their qualifications in these subjects.  Instead of schools choosing between a number of competing GCSEs in these subjects, a competition will be held to identify a single suite of qualifications, offered by a single Awarding Organisation in each subject, for a period of five years.

A public consultation on these reforms has been launched, which will run until 10th December.  This can be accessed at the DfE website.  It sets out the intention to increase rigour in the new qualifications, and the characteristics against which the Government proposes to assess the new qualifications.  The Government expects Awarding Organisations submitting qualifications to have a strong reputation for excellence and evidence that they have existing qualifications with a good track record of supporting progression to further study at A Level, vocational subjects or to Apprenticeships.  The Government will also look for high expectations of the performance students need to demonstrate, rigorous demands for assessment, and challenging requirements for content to ensure that students will be studying a world class syllabus.

The Department’s consultation covers:

  • The characteristics that it should look for in selecting new qualifications;
  • How best to support schools and post-16 institutions as they prepare to deliver the qualifications;
  • How best all our young people can be prepared to achieve the reformed qualifications; this includes, in particular, the arrangements for lower attaining pupils who are not ready to take the new examinations at the end of Key Stage 4,
  • The impact of the reforms on specific pupil groups, including those pupils with SEN and/or disabilities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds

The Secretary of State has also announced his plans to hold a separate and wide-ranging consultation on the secondary school accountability system, to start later in the year.


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Booktrust School Library Pack

Don’t miss out on free books and resources for your school library – register for the School Library Pack today!  This autumn Booktrust are pleased to offer every secondary school in England the School Library Pack: a free pack of books and resources which aims to support school libraries to create a reading culture that reaches all students, encouraging students to discuss what they are reading and join in activities such as reading groups.
The School Library Pack is funded by the Department for Education, and generously supported by children’s book publishers. Each pack will contain the following:
Contemporary Classics - Five copies each of:

  • Pig Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman
  • Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Oranges in No Man’s Land by Elizabeth Laird
  • Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Supported by specially commissioned Reading Group Guides
Non-fiction titles - One copy each of:

  • How to Make a Universe from 92 Ingredients by Adrian Dingle
  • Phenomenal! The Small Book of Big Words by Jonathan Meres
  • Murderous Maths: Guaranteed to Bend Your Brain by Kjartan Poskitt
  • The Worst Children’s Jobs in History by Tony Robinson

Graphic novels - One copy each of:

  • Manga Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Kate Brown
  • SilverFin: The Graphic Novel by Charlie Higson and Kev Walker
  • Boffin Boy and the Forest of the Ninja by David Orme and Peter Richardson
  • Super Animal Adventure Squad by James Turner

Please note: a different selection of titles will be available to special schools; further details will be available shortly.

The School Library Pack is available free of charge to any school or education provider in England with a Year 7 intake and is ideal to support your school library, learning resource centre, multimedia centre, or to help build on the range of books available for reading for pleasure in your classrooms.   

Register now!
To receive this completely free resource containing 33 books you must register online by Friday 5 October. Registration is now open on the Booktrust website: http://www.booktrust.org.uk/bookgifting/registration/
For more information about the School Library Pack please contact us by emailing schoollibrarypack@booktrust.org.uk

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Research Request

SurveyEryl Norris is conducting research into the potential of connecting young readers through a sociable, online platform to encourage children to continue reading through the transition ages (8 to teen) - when their interest in reading for fun usually declines.  Children can contribute to the research by taking part in this quick online survey before October, and all completed entries will be entered into a prize draw to win a £20 Amazon gift voucher.  Eryl has been working with libraries, schools and publishers on this and would be grateful for your help in encouraging children to take part.

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Sally Nicholls to join us at Conference75

Sally NichollsWe are delighted to announce that author Sally Nicholls will join us in Gateshead on November 16th for our very special Conference75.  She is joining an already full programme, which includes Kevin Crossley Holland, Andy Briggs and Sue Walters (from Seven Stories) as well as a range of break out sessions packed with inspirational good practice.   Do sign up to attend - the programme is promising a busy day of training and opportunities for vital networking. 

To access the full programme please see the Training webpage, booking is available online on the same page.  A full page advert is in the current School Librarian (p151) - copy this and hand it round to colleagues who may be interested, this is too good an opportunity to miss! 

NB due to a health issue Carol Webb is unable to speak at the conference - we wish her a speedy recovery!  We are very lucky that Duncan Wright, the librarian at Stewart's Melville College, Edinburgh and our School Librarian of the Year 2010 will now be our opening speaker. 

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SLYA Profile - Adam Lancaster

We are profiling our School Librarian of the Year Honour List - one per week until the announcement at the award ceremony on 1 October 2012 - watch the website every week for a new profile. We hope you will find reading about these exemplary librarians interesting.

Adam Lancaster

Librarian/Associate Assistant Headteacher
Monk’s Walk School, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
(www.monkswalk.herts.sch.uk )

Adam LancasterAdam Lancaster may well be the first school librarian to be appointed associate assistant headteacher, without being a trained teacher.

He takes up his additional post at Monk’s Walk from September 2012 when the former 11-18 specialist science college achieves academy status.

The appointment is in recognition of his work in improving literacy throughout the school and the wider community. His new role underlines the responsibilities he already has related to teaching and learning, including study support and information literacy, which is integrated in teacher performance targets at Monk’s Walk.

In addition, he is a school governor and was a member of the panel appointing the new headteacher. No surprise then that library is firmly at the heart of school life and there are two applicants for every pupil librarian post, even though Adam has appointed 60 this year.

Adam’s career started with a BA in English and Educational Studies at De Montfort University, after which he resolved not to become a teacher. “I don’t like the education system as it applies in the classroom: teachers are too constrained. I thought I would have more freedom if I found another way to work in education.”

Chartered librarianship training with CILIP and a post with Hertfordshire’s School Library Service followed before his first school librarian role in a Borehamwood secondary, and finally the move to Monk’s Walk four years ago as full-time librarian supported by a full-time assistant.

Since the SLS closed in March 2012, the Monk’s Walk library has set about filling the vacuum by offering free continuing professional development not only to the school’s 20 feeder primaries but also for secondary schools across Hertfordshire. This builds on Adam’s personal work as a consultant for schools and publishers besides his experience in the SLS.

It all benefits Monk’s Walk, he says, “Because I get to visit so many other schools and choose which elements of their good practice we can use.” He has chaired the Federation of Children’s Book Groups in alternate years since 2008, which means access to a wide network of schools, publishers and reading supporters. His FCBG work has inspired the initiative closest to his heart: the creation of a reading community that reaches beyond the school, partly based on the Illust8tor collaborative online visual literacy project which Adam devised and the Federation supports.

Adam Lancaster with books The Monk’s Walk library has a reading collection for parents and Adam and his assistant Fran support parents to create a reading climate at home. This means events and regular sessions before and after school and at weekends. “We are working to create a literacy-rich community which takes time and will benefit the school for generations to come. It’s best to do things regularly on a small scale rather than a big effort once a year. Although we are not far from London there is not easy access to book events and activities for most people. Our local bookshop has closed in the past year and parents need to go somewhere for advice both related to our pupils and younger siblings. The families we work with vary a lot from those who are very keen for their children to make progress to those who are not confident with reading themselves. It’s exciting work because the effect is potentially massive.”

Adam supports this public face of the library with a monthly book choice interview on BBC local radio, a fortnightly Twitter discussion about books and reading and his blog about reader development, The Book Guy.

As a primary school pupil in Hertford, he clearly remembers being won over to reading by the Sandford football series by Rob Childs. “I found those books at the right time and moved on to Jules Verne. Otherwise I would have found something else to do. Introducing children to books is all about catching the moment. All our Year 7s have a term of Enjoying Reading classes in the library. We tell them they don’t have to read in the library – the lessons are for making book trailers and doing fun stuff – but we want them to read everywhere else they can.”

Adam Lancaster with gadgets The Enjoying Reading sessions help Adam to identify pupils who will benefit from a 10-week literacy intervention programme which uses Kindles, iPads and iPods to increase opportunities to read and has been shown to raise reading age by a minimum of 18 months. This is just a small part of a whole tracking program run through the library highlighting students with weak literacy skills and running specific intervention schemes, many of which are Adam’s own creation.

In his teaching and learning role, he has contributed to Monk’s Walk’s imminent and decision to scrap homework (“75 per cent of our detentions were related to pupils not doing homework”) in favour of preparation for lessons “which is where information literacy is crucial.”

The father of a two-year-old and married to a primary teacher, 29-year-old Adam describes himself as “terminally busy – but I like being busy.” He is grateful for the support of the school’s head and teaching staff. “But we have to earn that support by showing the value in what we do. If you have something good going on anywhere in a school, it will be seen and it will have an impact. But you’ve got to keep at it.”

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Information Book Award 2012 Update

The celebration and announcement of the winners of the Information Book Award for 2012 will take place on 22nd October at the Free Word centre in London.  Don’t forget, you still have time to register and take part in the Children’s Choice - voting for the winners in each section and for an overall winner. 

IBA Poster 2012

PDF file, 2 MB

Requires Adobe Reader


We have over 60 schools already registered to vote this year.  The poster of the shortlisted titles is also available to download, and the other side of it can be used throughout the year.  We have shared a few ideas in our IBA Activity Pack to get you thinking how you might use the award to stimulate activity and discussion on information books in your school.  If you would like to share any ideas with other school librarians please send them to us and we can incorporate them…

Deadline – voting closes 19th October.

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BETT 2013

BETT 2013Bett 2013, the world’s leading event for learning technology takes place on 30 January to 2 February 2013 at ExCeL London, bringing together more than 700 exhibitors and around 30,000 visitors.

As the global meeting place for visitors who are passionate about the transformational power of learning technology, the show provides easy access to learning resources and services that will enhance learning within the school library. It provides a platform for ensuring that school libraries remain at the forefront of what are the latest and most cost effective options available.

A whole host of seminars will ensure that visitors come away with ideas and best practice examples which enable them to invest in literacy material and supporting technologies in the most efficient and effective manner.

More than 700 exhibitors will be showcasing the latest and greatest ideas and innovation within the industry. Leading global brands Pearson, Oxford University Press, Nelson Thornes, Renaissance Learning and RM are just a few examples of who you can expect to visit at the show.

BETT 2013 is free to attend; to register or for more information, please visit www.bettshow.com

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SLYA Profile - Rosalind Buckland

We are profiling our School Librarian of the Year Honour List - one per week until the announcement at the award ceremony on 1 October 2012 - watch the website every week for a new profile. We hope you will find reading about these exemplary librarians interesting.

Rosalind Buckland

Ripley St Thomas CE Academy, Lancaster
(www.ripley.lancs.sch.uk )

Rosalind BucklandRosalind Buckland has learned to think big: Ripley is one of the biggest and the most over-subscribed non selective secondary schools in Lancashire with 1,650 students on roll with 350 students in the Sixth Form. That means 270 pupils in each year group taken from up to 60 feeder primaries.

Rosalind is about to start her sixth year at Ripley (“which means I have followed most of the children through the school, and am getting to the stage where I know them all”), which she joined after her first full-time school librarian post in a secondary that had just come out of special measures.

Ripley, by comparison, has more than 95 per cent higher grade GCSE passes, became an academy last year and has achieved 31 Grade 1s in its last Ofsted inspection in December 2011 which allows the academy to apply for Teaching School status.

“Ripley is a different experience. There is very innovative management and a culture of freedom to achieve what you want as long as you can justify and evaluate what you do.”

“Whilst budgeting resources are challenging they are line with other departments and the LRC is included in the school’s focus on teaching and learning. From my work with Lancashire SLA, I know there are many school librarians doing an excellent job with far fewer resources and less support and so I appreciate what I have.”

In the past year, Rosalind has been given a library assistant for four hours a day which has freed time to invest in reader development projects such as an inter-school Year 8 reading group, which has involved three schools in its first six months with two more to join in September. “It’s exciting because the students have yet to meet in person; they’ve been communicating via a blog which was a new experience for many of them.”

Rosalind Buckland with pupilsRosalind is also proud of her programme of inter-school author visits, inviting pupils from six neighbouring schools and which recently included Jacqueline Wilson, Rick Riordan and the Man Booker shortlisted author, Carol Birch. She has also taken Sixth Form students along to Lancaster University for a lecture by Professor David Crystal. “We include adult authors for Year 12 and 13 because we want to continue to encourage our Sixth Form students to read for pleasure.”

Ripley has been selected to participate in the Man Booker Prize’s new Schools Partners for 2013 and shadows the Carnegie Medal as well as judging the Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year Award 2013.

Rosalind’s research and work in setting up a gender based boy-friendly area in the library has been shared as a Toolkit on the National Literacy Trust schools network. Titled If shops have men’s departments then why shouldn’t libraries, it has proven to be a major success in reader development for boys at Ripley. “Again I’m lucky because Ripley is very much a reading school, many of the students like to read and their families buy books, however there is always more you can do.”

Until recently Rosalind held an additional post working on Sundays as an Information Officer at the University of Cumbria library. This experience has been crucial to Ripley’s campaign to address the information skills gap between schools and higher education, work which starts in Rosalind’s Key Stage 3 library lessons.

“There is a debate about whether it is the job of schools or higher education to teach students to cite and reference properly and how to avoid plagiarism, the ball gets passed back and forth. There is a lot of excellent practice in schools in information literacy but there is not yet a commonality of practice, in contrast to the standards in higher education. Schools need to collaborate and tap into what their local higher education providers are offering.”

Thanks to Rosalind’s links with University of Cumbria, Ripley students have access to the university’s interactive online tutorials on citing and referencing skills and she has established a programme of visits by university staff and also for Ripley students to visit the university libraries. This partnership has been especially beneficial to those who undertake the Extended Project Qualification with which Rosalind is also involved.
Her experience in HE has also helped her lead the school’s investment in qualitative research databases. “We want sixth formers to have the research tools that they will be expected to use at university. And with reduced contact time and more self-directed study for sixth formers it is important that they are provided with quality digital resources”.

A survey of Sixth Form students (Rosalind runs many student surveys, usually using SurveyMonkey – “evaluation is in the school psyche”, she says) revealed that they undertook between 70% and 90% of their research online. “Yet only 4% of content on the web is intended for educational purposes. Students need something in addition to Google and Wikipedia” – and she has written articles for JCS Online in support of this argument.

Rosalind grew up in South Wales, studied Technical Graphics at West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education and had a first career as an illustrator and later as an Art Buyer in advertising agencies in the 1980s. After a move to the North-West and a career break to have her two sons, she started working four hours a day in public libraries.

“I realised that libraries could offer everything I wanted from a career but I appreciated the profession had evolved using new technologies. I felt out of touch with IT so in my own time I did the European Computer Driving Licence and two A-level equivalent qualifications in web design.”

Having got the bug for independent study, a five-year part-time degree in Library and Information Management at Manchester Metropolitan University followed, while increasing her working hours and at one point working part-time in a high school library during the week and a public library on Saturdays and at the end of the five years, working in HE on Sundays.

“I like to be aware of the many aspects of librarianship and am able to draw from my three strands of experience in H.E., public and school libraries.”

Rosalind is currently preparing her Chartership portfolio and hoping to complete the process this year, while considering an education-based masters related to teaching and learning. She is also a staff governor and one of the school’s Duke of Edinburgh Award coordinators, and finds time to paint with watercolours and enjoy crown green bowling.

“I need to keep stretching myself and it is reassuring to know that at school I’ve got the support to do it.”

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SLYA Honour List 2012 just released

SLA 75 LogoWe are delighted to announce that three exceptional school librarians have been selected as the Honour List finalists for the 2012 SLA School Librarian of the Year Award.

Rosalind Buckland – Librarian, Ripley St Thomas CE Academy, Lancaster

Adam Lancaster – Librarian/Associate Assistant Headteacher, Monk’s Walk School, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Gill Trueman – Library and Information Manager, Peasedown St John Primary School, near Bath.

Full profiles of the three finalists will appear weekly on the SLA blog in forthcoming weeks, starting on Monday.

Our press release has more information about the 2012 SLYA Honour List.

The three Honour List candidates will go forward to the Award ceremony on 1 October 2012 when the winner of the School Librarian of the Year will be decided.

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Activity Pack for Information Book Award

Poster IBAWe have a fascinating shortlist of finalists in the SLA's Information Book Award this year.

A superb A2 poster was included in the Autumn issue of The School Librarian and we have now produced an Activity Pack to help schools shadow this award and provide some ideas for lesson plans and activities.

Online voting by schools is open until 19 October 2012, so sign up now to make your pupils' votes count!

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Delivery problem with some of our journals

The Autumn 2012 issue of The School Librarian is now on its way to members. Due to a production problem, some members may find two address label sheets within their pack. If you could kindly let the SLA office know if you have a label that doesn't belong to you, then we can arrange replacement copies. (Fax the duplicate carrier sheet to 01793 481182 or email production[at]sla.org.uk or telephone 01793 530166.)  Our apologies for this mix up!

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