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Citation for Amanda Gough

AMANDA GOUGH

  • Kellett School, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
    Nominated by Rhona Hughes, Mathematics Subject Leader

In 2003, the Headteacher at Kellett School was keen to appoint a librarian with the skill and drive to develop an effective library. Amanda was appointed and became the first professional primary school librarian in Hong Kong, having previously worked in public libraries in England. She is thus an exemplar for primary school librarians everywhere. Kellett is an independent fee-paying English speaking school of 400 pupils which is expanding to take Y7 and Y8 pupils in the next two years. Much of its population is transient, and disproportionately weighted towards the younger year groups as the staged expansion takes place. To accommodate this growth a multi-storey extension is currently under construction, in which a new library, three times as big as the present one, will be housed. Amanda has a free hand to work with the architects on its design.

Amanda and her parent volunteer assistants work in a comfortable, accessible library with a large stock of 17,000 volumes – she is already buying for the new library – which reflects the international nature of the school, where Chinese culture is taught and Mandarin lessons are compulsory. Staff admire Amanda’s knowledge of books and passion for reading. She works hard to encourage effective book use and teaches the appropriateness and limitations of the Internet, while recognising the place of computers – 24 laptops are kept for use in KS2 library lessons. All pupils have a library lesson every week, in which library skills are taught as well as storytimes and book borrowing. We observed Amanda working with two reception classes, where she explained information books and alphabetical order, and read stories. She showed a natural rapport with the children, who were attentive and interested.

Amanda is adept at raising individual pupils’ awareness of the wider world through appropriate reading recommendations. She is committed to reader development - she brings in authors, runs a Book Week, and opens the library for family use during school holidays. Children write book reviews, and take part in a reading challenge – to read a number of books of different genres. Amanda uses the school’s monthly newsletter to promote the library and its events – such as an international bookmark exchange, a simple guide for parents on choosing books for children, and the Battle of the Books. This is a Hong Kong wide inter-school promotion for P5 and P6 pupils, where children read books chosen by a group of librarians, then take part in a quiz.

Amanda is co-ordinator of a Hong Kong Librarians Group – all other members work in secondary schools so this is a great endorsement of her expertise by her peers. She runs a staff reading circle, and takes assemblies, contributes to staff meetings and is involved in INSET. She is also involved with netball teams and summer camps, and has taken a sports team to Beijing. Her colleagues admire her all-round contribution.

She now looks forward to fulfilling the promise that the new library will bring. The intake of secondary pupils from September is already reflected in library resource provision. A Development Plan for the new library is being prepared, with information literacy a key area for enhancement, to build independent learning and forge stronger links with the whole curriculum. The library also has a key role in developing writing skills, which currently lag behind the high reading levels.
Amanda has commitment and drive allied to a wide knowledge and expertise. She enthuses about the work that lies ahead. As the first professional librarian at any primary school in Hong Kong, Amanda has much to live up to. She fulfils her Headteacher’s vision for the library, and amply demonstrates that the burden of being a role model sits lightly on her shoulders.