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Rebecca Jones

Rebecca Jones with pupils from Malvern St James School, Malvern
Rebecca Jones with pupils from
Malvern St James School, Malvern

Rebecca Jones
Librarian, Malvern St James School, Malvern, Worcestershire

Rebecca is devoted to the cause of giving the girls at her school more confidence and curiosity as learners. What motivates her above everything else is: "Helping learners to be able to learn independently – to fire their curiosity and enable them to exploit information sources for themselves.

"I would also like to encourage pupils (and staff) to ask questions and find out the answers to the issues that effect them and the world we live in. I haven't actually read all the books in the library or know all the answers – I just know how to use the system and find the answer."

With a PhD in information science, she is a member of the information literacy (IL) task force set up by school librarians and librarians’ organisations to help find best practice and new ways to embed IL into schools’ learning and teaching and promote IL in the wider education community.

She is about to travel to Queensland, Australia for the International Association of School Librarianship annual conference, where she will present a paper on the independent learning projects which she has organised for Year 6 and Year 9 pupils at Malvern St James in the past year.

The independent boarding and day school for girls aged 4 to 18 benefits from Rebecca’s expertise across the curriculum. She teaches pupils to: "learn and use their information retrieval, analysing and synthesising skills", use the library and the school virtual learning environment (VLE), manage and carry out their research and practical work, record their learning journey and present their findings, giving attention to the process as well as the results. Rebecca likes to spend as much time as possible in the classroom and was nominated for the award by the school’s director of teaching and learning, Alison Hewitt.

The Year 9 girls were given a week off timetable last term to work on individual projects including a final presentation. Rebecca is now planning a similar project for Year 12. The library blog showcases the pupils’ current research projects as well as Rebecca’s own reading choices, which reveal another passion – for food and cookbooks.

With a young daughter, time for reading is becoming more precious although she is currently enjoying A Web of Air by Philip Reeve ("I love the Mortal Engines series") and The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, plus exploring picture books with her daughter. "Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin is particularly amusing." She is an avid reader of magazines: "Health & Fitness, Good Food, Red and Psychologies. Focus and Vogue when I have the time. And The Week, as it has some interesting bite-sized articles. I advocate the reading of any type of material from a bulletin board online article to books, magazines or graphic novels."

The library is a large, light and airy room, open till 9pm, with topical displays including a media board updated daily by Rebecca’s team of pupil library assistants. There is a separate area for silent study and "a working atmosphere" in the main room. "I keep the space flexible", says Rebecca, who enjoys the good acoustics during the summer stock-take when "I play music very loudly."

There is a separate, smaller, junior school library, which is bright and inviting. Rebecca runs a range of lunchtime sessions including a podcasting club for the junior school and a reading group for Years 7 and 8 (the members enjoy authors ranging from John Le Carré to Meg Cabot). She also spends one lunchtime a week training staff in using the VLE.

Rebecca enjoys the multicultural aspect of the school community. Malvern St James has 369 pupils of whom half are boarders and 30 per cent international students, including 58 EAL students. She has previously worked in Leicester University Map Library, at the BRIT performing arts school in Croydon and at a mixed comprehensive in Retford, Notts.

For the past six years she has done voluntary marketing and promotional work for SFB Events, which organises science fiction conventions and social gatherings to raise money for charity (currently Teenage Cancer Trust). Not surprisingly, she is a Terry Pratchett fan.

For more information about Malvern St James see www.malvernstjames.co.uk.