Liz Millett, Teaching Assistant/Library Co-ordinator at Weatherfield Academy, Dunstable, was awarded the honour of the SLA School Librarian of the Year 2014 at a celebration at the Hotel Russell in London on 6 October. Award-winning author and artist Chris Riddell (Macmillan Children’s Books) presented her with the award.
Weatherfield Academy is a special school for students aged 7 to 19 with Moderate Learning Difficulties and additional complex needs. There are 117 pupils in the school with 52% attracting Pupil Premium funding and entitled to free school meals and 32% in social care. Much of the curriculum is aimed at giving students lifelong skills. In 2009 a room was adapted for the library and Liz Millett took on the job of developing it. The pupils make good levels of progress, as judged by Ofsted in 2013.
Liz says “My aim is to increase their pleasure from reading whatever level they are at to make sure they are not frightened by books or put off them, so that they will come to see reading as something they will always have for themselves.”
To read more about Liz go to: Liz Millet
Ginette Doyle, Chair of the Selection Committee said:
“What we found so inspiring about our winner was that the students she deals with were confident and efficient library users. Liz Millett uses whatever means she can to ensure that they have books that they can access, at their level, and the response that the students gave us, their enthusiasm for the Library and for Liz herself, showed that she is doing an outstanding job for Weatherfield Academy.”
The SLA also presented its inaugural Founders' Award for a distinguished career in school librarianship to Barbara Band of The Emmbrook School in Wokingham and President of CILIP.
Acceptance Speech by Barbara Band
People ask me “how do I manage to do everything that I do?” … I am always being asked this and I usually say “I don’t know” because I don’t, I just do it!
I am lucky because I have quite high energy levels and do not need much sleep which helps because it gives me more hours in the day. I am blessed in having a partner and family who, whilst they do not quite understand my obsession with books and reading and libraries, recognise that it is part of me and tolerate it. Although my daughters have been known to distract me and steer me across the road if we are out shopping and they spot a bookshop ahead because they know that once I get inside, that will be that. We will be there for hours. And I am also privileged to work in an amazing profession.
School librarianship. We are often misunderstood. People really do not know what we do; even now, after all the times I have spoken about school libraries. We generally have low status and low pay. And we continually have to fight for recognition. Yet we have seen this morning, and we will see even more evidence this afternoon, the difference a school library can make when it is supported and fully embedded in the ethos of the school.
School librarians. What an incredible group of people. We do not give up! Day after day we work with our students, trying to instil that reading for pleasure because, as has already been said, it is not the knowing how to read that is important, it is the wanting to read. And students who want to read gain so many benefits. We also try to create information literate students, a skill that is so essential in today’s world. And this group of people are wonderfully supportive, sharing and enthusiastic.
So the answer to that question “how do I do everything?” is that I don’t! Because I’m not doing it on my own. I could not do it without all those school librarians helping me. Thank you for this award; I am honoured and humbled to receive it. But I do feel that it is as much those other school librarians’ award as it is mine.
The School Librarian of the Year Award 2014 was sponsored by Raintree, Softlink and Macmillan Children's Books. The SLA is very grateful for this sponsorship, without which the Award could not continue in its current format.
Macmillan Children's Books