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SLA Blog » December 2018RSS 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.

Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award finalists

Many congratulations to the outstanding finalists shortlisted for the 2019 PLAA

All young people who give their time to help support the library in their school deserve a massive THANK YOU and it was very difficult to cut down the list of nominees.


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Oxford University Advent calendar of useful resources

Although we're posting a bit late, Oxford University had made this December calendar of useful free resources and courses available to schools, so if you have some free time in the next week do explore.   

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Job Vacancies, Learning Support Assistant: Claires Court, Maidenhead, Learning Support Assistant


Claires Court

Learning Support Assistant

We are seeking to appoint a highly committed and self-motivated Learning Support Assistant, with the responsibility of running the school's library at Junior Boys.

The successful candidate will work under the guidance of the Head of English and Class Teacher to support children both within the classroom and with their reading programmes. The ideal candidate will have a passion and knowledge of children's literature, with the ability to manage and promote the school library.

This is a full-time post working Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm, when the School is in session.

To be successful in this role, you must be:

  • Experienced working with young people, in a classroom setting, ideally in a similar role and age range  
  • Educated to a good standard: English and Maths GCSE A-C grade
  • Highly organised and have good IT skills, particularly in using management systems
  • Able to encourage a love for reading to our pupils
  • An enthusiastic team player, with the ability to adapt to a variety of situations 
  • Engaged with the School's ethos, thinking creatively and reflectively within an open, honest and hardworking team. 

Above all you must want the very best for our pupils and be prepared to put their needs first. You recognise the importance of educating the whole child within a broad curricular and co-curricular programme, and of achieving high standards. In return we offer a positive working environment, with supportive colleagues and regular opportunities for professional development and training.

To apply, please download an application form from our website https://www.clairescourt.com/jobs

 Please post completed forms to the following address:
HR Department
Claires Court Schools Ltd
1 College Avenue

Alternatively, completed forms may be emailed to recruitment[at]clairescourt.com (no agencies, please).

Applications must be received by 12:00pm on Monday 14 January 2019. Please apply early as applications will be considered upon receipt; we reserve the right to interview/appoint prior to the closing date.

We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and applicants must be willing to undergo Child Protection screening appropriate to the post, including checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service.  We are an equal opportunities employer. 

LSA Application Pack

PDF file, 2 MB (Requires Adobe Reader)

More Details...

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Bringing it Alive! Storytelling to boost Literacy and Reading for Pleasure: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, 12 February 2019

Our course Bringing it Alive! Storytelling to boost Literacy and Reading for Pleasure, run by Alec Williams , will be held at Library Services for Education, Clyde Crescent, Whaddon, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 5QH on 12 February 2019.

Pupils need to listen to a wide range of stories but are they getting the most from storytelling in your school? This lively course will make sure that your stories will both motivate pupils to read and show them the pleasure they can get from it. Covering picture books and easy-to-learn stories from memory for all primary-aged children, this course will build confidence and give fresh inspiration for every teacher.

The closing date is 28 January 2019. Bookings received by 15 January 2019 are eligible for a £15 discount making the cost of the full days training just £90 for SLA members, £120 for delegates from Gloucestershire Library Services for Education subscribing schools and £150 for all others. Second place delegate discounts are also available. 

Key Audience: primary school teachers and support staff

Feedback from previous course: “Your course was a real confidence boost for us, as well as just plain fun – so thank you very much.  Your notes and recommendations too will be really useful.”

More Details...

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Excelsior Award Shortlists announced

The Excelsior Award - the nationwide book award for graphic novels and manga has announced the shortlists for 2019 with four separate categories for ages 9 -18, Why not get reading and join in, the awards are great at encouraging your students to explore new graphic novels and they are now Key Stage ranged. 

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There’s a Yeti in the Playground: mini winter challenge

Just incase the story starters from Tommy Donbavand aren't enough to keep pupils and young ones busy over the festive period (see blog post on on 12th Dec titled 'End of Term') don't forget The Reading Agency run a mini Winter Challenge - this year the focus book is "There’s a Yeti in the Playground". To get involved have a look at their website and while you're there you can make use of the Book Sorter to come up with suggestions of new reading material. 

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Welcome to the SLA Website: Christmas closure

The SLA office will close at 4pm on Thursday 20th December and will not open again until 8am Wednesday 2nd January. During this time emails and phone messages will not be monitored. We hope you all have a lovely festive period, whatever your plans. 

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Development and Discussion: Why do children need great school libraries?

Why do children need great school libraries?

In this Development and Discussion blog the National Literacy Trust’s Head of Research Christina Clark explains how the charity’s latest research demonstrates the value of school libraries on children’s lives.

It is an undisputed fact that school libraries play a crucial role in supporting children and young people to acquire the skills they need and deserve for the future. Indeed, previous research has highlighted the importance of school libraries, not just for children and young people’s reading and writing skills, but also for their general academic attainment, wider learning skills, their motivation and attitudes towards reading, and other personal and interpersonal outcomes, such as self-esteem and feelings of success.

While school libraries are clearly important for the reasons outlined above and more, there is a lack of data on school libraries in the UK, which means that nobody has a clear idea of the state of provision, potentially contributing to educational inequality. In 2018, the Great School Libraries campaign was launched with the aim to bring school libraries and librarians to every school in the UK and to gather data on the quality and quantity of school libraries that already exist.

A benchmarking survey will be conducted across the UK in early 2019, which will tell us how many schools have a school library, in its many guises, and much more. However, that survey will not provide information on the pupils' experience and use of school libraries, which is why we thought that it might be interesting to see what children and young people who participated in our latest annual literacy survey that we conducted in November 2017 and January 2018 had to say about school libraries.

So, how many children and young people say that they use the school library? Of the 45,523 children and young people who answered our questions on school library use, nearly 2 in 3 (63.2%) told us that they use their school library, while nearly 1 in 3 (32.9%) told us they don’t. 3.9% of children and young people we surveyed told us that they don’t have a school library.

Overall, school library use decreased slightly over the last couple of years, with 67.1% of children and young people in 2016 telling us that they used the school library.

Our data tells us how many pupils use the school library - and also who is more likely to use it. For example, more girls than boys say that they use their school library (68.5% vs. 63.5%). Similarly, more pupils who receive free school meals, our proxy of socioeconomic background, use their school library compared with their more advantaged peers (69.1% vs. 64.7%).

However, the biggest difference in school library use is seen across age groups, where over twice as many pupils aged 8 to 11 as those aged 14 to 16 say that they use their school library (81.9% vs. 37.3%).  We also found geographical variation in school library use with those from the  North West of England (52.4%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (57.6%) being least likely to use the school library and those from Greater London (75.2%), the West Midlands (72.2%) and the South West (71.5%) being most likely to use the library.

Why do children and young people use, or don’t use, their school library? Read the full blog post below to find out. 

DandD_School libraries 2018 blog

PDF file, 288 kB

Requires Adobe Reader

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Owning books boosts children’s literacy and mental wellbeing

The National Literacy Trust has released new research which shows that the more books a child owns, the more likely they are to do well at school and be happy with their lives.

To get books into the hands of the children who need them the most this Christmas, the charity has launched a festive book giveaway to give parents the chance to win one of 20 different titles for their child: wordsforlife.org.uk/festive-fun/winter-book-giveaway.

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End of term

It's headed towards (and has already arrived for some!) the end of term, but here's a few reminders: 

  • End of term (or at home with children) activity: The wonderful Tommy Donbavand has created some story starters with a Christmas theme, so whether you're at school or at home, this is a great opportunity to get those creative brains working! And don't forget you can keep up to date with all Tommy's latest writings by visiting his website: http://www.tommydonbavand.com/


PDF file, 2 MB (Requires Adobe Reader)



  • Library Display competition - this quarter runs until 31st December, so we'll choose winners in January. All displays about reading, festivities and anything else are welcome! You can win a £50 gift voucher so it's worth taking a snap and emailing it to info@sla.org.uk with the subject line 'School Library Display Competition'
  • Free training place - don't forget to enter for the training place sponsored by PSP Asset Protection. The deadline has been extended; you can find more information in the latest edition of Info@ - the newsletter that comes with The School Librarian. 

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Survey to shape how libraries work with young people

A quick reminder that if you have young people wandering into your school libraries looking for a respite from revising for mocks, please could you encourage them to complete a survey on helping to shape the way in which libraries work with young people.

The survey is for young people (13-24 years) to find out their views on how they think libraries (school or public) should work with young people.

Please do share.
The deadline for responses is 2nd Jan 2019.

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Nominations for 2019 Board

The SLA Board is looking for members with enthusiasm and commitment to stand for election to two vacant positions on the SLA Board for the three-year term beginning at the 2019 AGM in June 2019.

We are particularly looking for someone who may be interested in becoming Treasurer in time, and for those who feel under represented. Should we receive more applications than there are places available the members of the SLA will vote.

The Board is responsible for the strategic planning and decision-making which take the Association forward. Being elected by your peers to serve on the Board carries lots of benefits and most headteachers recognise the enhancement of your professional status that this brings. Being on the Board means you will legally be a Director of the SLA. Here is more information:



If you, or someone you know, would like to stand for election, please use this document


Word document, 94 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 97 or later)


Information about the Role and Responsibilities of Board Members is available here

All nominations must be received at the SLA office by 1 February 2019.

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Journal of Information Literacy

The latest issue (Dec 2018) of Journal of Information Literacy is now available at jil.lboro.ac.uk

JIL is an open access journal providing high quality evidence-based articles on the latest developments in information literacy.  

HomepageImage En US

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New SLA publications

Two new publications have just been published by the SLA

Priority Paperwork: Policy Making and Development Planning for Primary and Secondary School Libraries

Rachel Sargeant·November 2018

ISBN 9781911222170 · Price: £15.00 (Members £11.00)

Series: SLA Guidelines · Level: Primary and Secondary


Historical Fiction for the School Library: Riveting Reads

Dawn Finch·November 2018

ISBN 9781911222187 · Price: £15.00 (Members £11.00)

Series: Riveting Reads · Level: Primary and Secondary


To order visit https://www.sla.org.uk/publications-list.php

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BookTrust’s free School Library Packs

Last chance to register for free books

95% of BookTrust’s free School Library Packs have already been claimed – make sure your school doesn’t miss out. You can sign up on the BookTrust website.

Funded by Arts Council England as well as BookTrust’s partners and donors, and carefully selected for a range of reading interests and abilities the free School Library Pack and Special School Library Pack are available to all secondary schools in England with a Year 7 (or equivalent) intake.

As well as books, the packs also include free resources designed to support social reading experiences, and to help you promote the reading and the school library.

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CE Blog 7: Education, Equity and Equal chances?

CE Blog 7: Education, Equity and Equal chances?

There have been a number of events I have attended recently where the idea of equity within education has come up. The first was a few months ago, at the launch of the OECD report ‘Equity in Education’ hosted by the Education Policy Institute. This report showed not only that the academic gap between advantaged and disadvantaged starts as early as 10, but that achievement gap could still be seen at 25. Schleicher, from the OECD, mentioned that the gap for the UK is actually still growing.

Commenting on the UK findings, Natalie Perera, Executive Director of the Education Policy Institute, said:

“[These findings] highlight how compared other developed countries, disadvantaged pupils in the UK are more likely to feel less socially integrated at schools, less satisfied with life, and more likely to suffer from test anxiety. While overall academic gaps have been closing in recent years, in order to make further progress it is essential that policy-makers pay greater attention to supporting pupils’ wellbeing”.

(More about the OECD report can be found here: https://epi.org.uk/news/oecd-equity-report-epi-response/ )

The other was at the Schools and Academies Show in Birmingham, where I listened to The Right Honourable David Laws, Executive Chairman of the Education Policy Institute talk about a similar issue, along with workforce pressures and off-rolling. He highlighted that the UK has the largest gap between advantaged and disadvantaged of the richest nations, and by the time disadvantaged pupils leave school they are on average 18 months behind their advantaged peers.

 Mike Kane MP (Shadow Minister for Schools) was the next speaker, and he mentioned the disadvantage gap while discussing the National Education Service – “a plan to provide the best education for each child”. While there were some political shots, there were some good ideas – like removing year to year budgeting, and budgeting for 3-4 years instead.  However, there was no mention of support staff and the role they could play in reducing teacher workload pressures or increasing retention of teachers.

A few weeks later I had a very positive meeting with Lord Watson (Shadow Education Minister for Labour) and I asked him why this was – he said they had not got to the detailed planning stage yet, so there may well be yet. As Mike Kane MP is married to a librarian I am hopeful – something he pointed out when I asked about school libraries in the NES picture! (As an aside, my conversation with Lord Watson resulted in him mentioning school libraries in the debate on school funding in the House of Lords – something you can see here: https://t.co/kjzFoNeeu3- so thank you to Lord Watson for his support!). *

I hear all these conversations going on about education and it is increasingly apparent to me that everyone discussing this is missing a trick – the role of school libraries. A school library is a space that feeds the mind, and finds the nutrition to take children to the next step in their journey. School libraries should be funded and staffed because having access to a range of reading materials, and someone to guide them through the selection leads to one of the most successful interventions – reading for pleasure. This study indicates that improvements in reading can still be seen ten years later: https://home.kpmg.com/uk/en/home/insights/2018/11/the-impact-of-reading-recovery-ten-years-after-intervention.html

 But the staffing is as important for the delivery of information literacy – providing the skills to find and use information, and ultimately to fully participate in society. The awareness of bias, ethics, plagiarism and referencing are as important in the real world, in the digital world and in academia. School libraries improve pupil outcomes; I know from personal experience this is the case.

In schools which fund their school libraries, and whose library staff have access to training and support, those pupils will have more chances. More chances to find a book that makes them tick; more chances to engage with research; more chances to learn independent learning skills. More chances full stop. And that has been recognised by some schools – like the free school which is fundraising for a school library, and some of the top independent schools.

The SLA is here to support all school libraries, and everyone involved in running them, whether you do it in your own time or as a career, whether you work in the library or run the PTA. We will support anyone involved in promoting reading for pleasure, and anyone involved in delivering information literacy. It’s about the children, and we will do everything we can to ensure that each person maximises the opportunities they are given.

We need to start effectively engaging with education – we’re here to support them, and it’s about each child. Finding what’s right for them to maximise their life chances. We need to make the case that poorly supported or understood school libraries don’t maximise a child’s chances – diminishing their access to reading material, reducing their creative spaces and limiting their engagement with information will not close the gap. School libraries aren’t the single answer, but they could and do, play a part.


*Just for the sake of balance it’s worth pointing out I also had a very successful meeting with Justin Tomlinson MP, which resulted in correspondence from the Department for Education, but it was before I started the blogs!



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WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, have announced that the poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams and the international poet and mental health campaigner Hussain Manawer are both joining this year’s judging panel alongside Head Judge Cressida Cowell. Dan Freedman, joins as an Ambassador for the awards.
The free to enter awards recognise excellence in writing, encourage creativity and develop writing talent in young people.
Deadline for entries is 18 March 2019.
Writing tips and resources are available on the site.
Prizes include book/eBook tokens, books for school libraries, a creative writing workshop for a class, an annual subscription to First News, a writing masterclass with a professional author and a VIP family experience at the West End production of WICKED, including tickets, an exclusive backstage tour and a meet-and-greet with members of the cast.

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Read On. Get On.

The Read On. Get On. (ROGO) campaign has published a new report which reveals that children's enjoyment of reading and daily reading levels are lagging behind their reading skills.

The ROGO coalition has published a best practice guide for primary schools containing a range of different activities and initiatives as well as a top tips for parents leaflet.

Author ambassador, Cressida Cowell, has also created a set of exciting reading for enjoyment posters to support the campaign.

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Job Vacancies, Downe House: Learning Resources Manager


Downe House

Learning Resources Manager

Near Newbury, Berkshire 

Salary up to £35K plus generous annual leave 

This is an exciting time for Downe House and as part of our Ten Year Vision we have just opened the Murray Centre, which is a contemporary purpose built space, centrally located at the heart of the School site. 

The Centre is a vibrant collaborative facility for our pupils, staff and visitors and is home to a range of excellent state of the art facilities which include seminar rooms, coffee shop, auditorium and a spacious and well-resourced library with full IT connectivity.

Working as part of a team, the Learning Resources Manager will play a key part in ensuring that our new library is at the heart of school life, and provides an engaging educational environment for pupils, staff and visitors. To be successful in the role you will need an enthusiastic and creative approach, be a strong communicator, have relevant experience in a library/learning resource/arts setting and hold a library/Information Management or teaching qualification. Maximising the effective use of technology will be vital in the Centre, so you will also need to be confident and competent with IT with a forward thinking approach.

The Centre is open from 8 am – 10 pm and flexible working hours will be required to include some evenings and weekends during term time, as part of the team rota.

In return we offer a wonderful working environment at one of the leading girls independent boarding schools in the country, generous annual leave entitlement of 8 weeks per annum plus bank holidays, ongoing CPD support, free parking on site, complimentary meals and refreshments during working hours, and a generous pension scheme.

Please visit www.downehouse.net (Jobs) to apply online and read more about the role and the School. For recruitment enquiries, please call: 01635 204712 or email recruitment[at]downehouse.net

 Closing date - Noon on Thursday 19 December 2018.

We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and any offer of employment is subject to an enhanced DBS check.

Vacancies Information Pack

PDF file, 615 kB (Requires Adobe Reader)

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Swindon Youth Festival of Literature

Really pleased (though a little late) to see the news about so many school local to HQ getting involved in the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature. Twelve secondary schools took part, engaging 5000 pupils - what a brilliant figure, which really shows the impact a small group of schools can have. With the support of the Swindon Advertiser and many, many fantastic authors this year looked like a real success. Can't wait to find out about plans for next year! 

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Book reviews on new website

We have talked about moving to a new website for some time and are currently in the process of moving content across to go live in the new year. Book reviews will therefore be posted directly onto the new website rather than the exisiting one. So please do check back mid January to see where else to spend your bookfund.

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Help, I'm in Charge of the Secondary School Library!: Manchester, 28 February 2019

Our course Help, I'm in Charge of the Secondary School Library!, run by Susan Staniforth, will be held at Dean Trust Ardwick, 345 Stockport Road, Manchester M13 0LF on 28 February 2019. The closing date is 13 February 2019. Bookings received by 31 January 2019 are eligible for a £15 discount.

Topic covered will include creating an inspiring library environment, library organisation and maintenance (including an introduction to Dewey and the benefits of a range of Library Management systems), selecting and buying books, library promotion, budgeting and writing a library policy/development plan.  Delegates will leave with the confidence to move the library forward and ensure it is used to maximum effect within their schools.

Key Audience:

A course for secondary school library staff

More Details...

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SLA Member benefit

Apologies for the error in info@ which will have just landed on members' doorsteps. The member benefit that Softlink have provided SLA members applies to initial purchase of Oliver and Scout, not Alice. Proofreaders are still human.

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