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SLYA Citation for Anne Dawson

ANNE DAWSON

  • Dulwich College Junior School
    Nominated by Penny Horsman, Head of Junior School
Anne Dawson being presented with her Honour Certificate by Philip Reeve. Photo: Martin Salter
Anne Dawson being presented with her
Honour Certificate by Philip Reeve.
Photo: Martin Salter

The Junior School is part of Dulwich College and has 200 boys in years 3-6. Anne had a wide professional career in libraries before taking up her appointment in 1996. She found a dark, boring, unused library, often locked, and used by Yrs 3-8. The school made full use of her experience and advice to create a library for Yrs 3-6 in the junior school and move provision for Yrs 7 and 8 elsewhere. The result is a bright, welcoming area further enhanced by the recent addition of a mezzanine for fiction and recreational reading. (Anne has been able to duplicate her successful library at home by taking an active part in setting up the junior library in Dulwich College, Shanghai).

The library now has a full range of resources supported by a generous book fund from the College information services budget. It is fully accessible to all pupils and has become so popular that lunchtimes are now split into 2 sessions. From the beginning Anne had a vision of what she wanted to achieve in the library and set about enthusing her sometimes doubtful teaching colleagues. Her knowledge of and passion for the best children’s books gained her their respect and helped them realise that the library could provide resources and support vital to both curriculum delivery and reading for pleasure. She now receives teaching plans for the whole year from staff (ensuring appropriate resources are available when needed) and works collaboratively with many staff to plan research based activities as part of the curriculum. She has devised a successful study skills programme that fits into their plans, creating confident learners. The librarian from the upper school library (Yrs 7/8) told the panel how evident this is when the boys move on.

Anne sets out to enthuse the pupils with a passion for reading by devising numerous quizzes and fun activities that build on the boys’ natural competitiveness: Book Bingo for Yrs 4/5/6 is now well established with small prizes as incentives to complete a line and certificates for full completion. Book celebration is enhanced by regular author visits and foci such as World Book Day and national prize awards.

Classes have regular lesson slots with Anne to encourage their personal use of the library. The panel enjoyed a Yr 3 lesson which finished with Anne reading an extract from Boy (Roald Dahl) to the whole class and then discussing with them how his own experiences influenced the way he wrote his stories. Other sessions are team taught with subject specialists with Anne reminding the students of skills they had already covered. Historical topics fit this approach very well. In her last appraisal Anne asked for her own teaching skills to be assessed and 3 years on this is showing obvious benefits. Research skills include use of IT enhanced by the newly acquired SMART board in the library.

All the school’s libraries, including the Junior School, are included on the Dulwich College website, giving further study skills tips and up to date information of what activities are happening in the library. This is one way of achieving another of Anne’s appraisal targets, that of raising the profile of the library and making it more visible to parents and visitors. Penny Horsman, Head of Junior School and Anne’s nominator, has already been told by several parents that the quality of the library had persuaded them to send their sons to the school.

Not only does Anne have a good rapport with the pupils but all the staff that the panel talked to were unanimous in their praise of her as a crucial member of the academic team, valued for her knowledge and support. One spoke of her even tempered calmness, totally approachable and totally dedicated to creating the best learning environment for the pupils.