Support for Secondary Schools

Advice and Support for All

If you are an SLA member please log in using the button on the top right hand side to see our full range of support and guidance documents. If you wish for more personalised advice please phone 01793 401156 or e-mail:

If you or your school are not yet a member of the SLA, please visit the Join page, or contact the SLA Office where staff will be happy to advise you on joining the Association. Members have access to a large number of support and guidance documents. Below are a small sample for non-members to use.  

BAME Author Booklist for Secondary Schools


How to write an annual report


Annual Report Secondary School example


Wellbeing and Mental Health YA Booklist


Copyright - FAQ


Library Facts Bookmark


Planning the school library year - non-member


Use of Kindles/ Kindle e-books in schools and school libraries


COVID webinar links


Reading - what works


Family Reading Segments


A Learning Space - a departmental review

Helen Burton, Independent Learning and Library Coordinator at Bishop Challoner Catholic College, has kindly allowed us to feature her 2012 SEF as an example of what a good library offers in support of learning and teaching.

Impact and effectiveness of School Libraries - a round up


Design Guidelines for a Secondary School Library


The location of the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) or library, its size and its environment are crucial in ensuring its effective use by students and staff. Library location also speaks volumes about the status given to the library as a whole school resource. If it is one of the first things both visitors and school staff and pupils see on entering the school it can reinforce the message that independent learning and reading are given a high profile.

For more information have a look at our page on designing libraries.

Library management software

Most modern lending libraries now operate an electronic management system and no longer use card catalogues or issue books. There are many reasons for this and investing in an electronic library management system is worth serious consideration, for all schools, no matter what the size, even if the initial cost and time expense of setting it up can seem daunting.  

An electronic management system allows:  

• smooth and fast borrowing and returning processes, possibly self-issue

• an easily searchable catalogue, encouraging the use of keywords and search strategies

• a multi-media approach to displaying information

• easy tracing of stock

• collecting statistics of stock use and borrowing behaviour

• remote access to the library’s resources  

Once it has been set up, an electronic management system will save time and therefore staff costs. Below are a few ideas which should help you to decide on an issue system and deal with the initial installation.  


The cost for the new management system is a big factor in the decision about purchasing and has to be considered carefully. Beyond the installation and training costs, it's worth finding out annual running costs for different systems, including updates, labels and additional software for scanners.  


It is important to consider who will be using the system and what they will be using it for.  A safe, user-friendly and logical management system enables children as well as non-library staff to use it for searching for resources. You may want to consider the possibility of providing self-issue terminals too to support independence.

It's also desirable for the system to come with technical support as you may not have the time or inclination to deal with technical issues yourself.   


Is your stock catalogued already? If you are migrating from a different computerised system, it is obviously worth checking compatibility. If your stock is not catalogued, every item will need to be added to stock manually, so you should consider functions which lessen the time needed for the initial set-up, such as automatic cataloguing.

Your library management system should be able to accommodate a range of different media, from picture books, read along books with CDs as well as novels, audio-books, non-fiction and reference items. Even if you do not have all of these in your library, you want your system to be flexible enough to cope with a range of formats.  


The database of borrowers needs to accommodate classes as well as individuals, teachers and students. It's important to be able to set different allowances and loan periods for each group and generate printed or email reminders for overdue items.Many systems allow you to import data directly from your school's administration database, so check the compatibility of different software.  

Comparing different systems

Once you have created your personal wish list and spoken to your school managers about budget, timescale and IT requirements, you can compare different systems in detail. All companies will be happy to send you information and many offer online demonstrations of their system.  

Questions to ask

Many systems are similar in terms of functionality. The less you pay, the less functionality there will be.

Major things to check are:

• How is the database constructed (this may affect speed) and can you personalise the front end for students and staff?

• Will it run on your existing computers?• Is there an option to be cloud based?

• If you are a multi-site school will it be possible to run one system to cover all sites?

• Will you be able to treat each site as a separate entity but still search across the sites and be able to return items at any of the sites?

• How easy is it to search - does it allow for poor spelling?

• How easy is it to catalogue – from where does it draw automated cataloguing records and how comprehensive is this?

• How does it account for overdues - can you email as well as print and have flexibility over who they go to?

• Does it sync with your school management system so when pupils join/leave you receive updates in realtime/weekly/termly?

• Does it support single sign on so there are no issues around students remembering passwords and this encourages use?

• What reports are offered as templates, or the ability to create your own?

• Can you find out easily what and how much students/classes are borrowing and how often they use the system?

• How easy is the circulation?

• Can users make reservations remotely? 

Shortlist systems to suit your school needs and talk to other schools who use these systems. 

Popular School Systems:

Abracadabra- for primary and secondary school libraries and special schools 

Access-IT Software - for primary and secondary school libraries and special schools 

Abbey House, 18-24 Stoke Road, Berkshire, SL2 5AG 

Tel: 0203 617 9908 


Autolib- for secondary schools

19 Angelvale Business Park, Top Angel, Buckingham, MK18 1TH 

Tel: 01280 820 080 


Bailey Solutions

Bailey Solutions Limited, Curtis House, 34 Third Avenue, Hove BN3 2PD

Tel: 01273 386 849


        Simple Little Library System - easy to use library software for primary schools

        KnowAll Matrix - powerful library software for secondary schools and FE colleges

Follett Destiny - used extensively in the US and some international schools

Outside US Email:

Heritage - for secondary schools 

IS Oxford, The Chapel, 3 Armstrong Road, Littlemore, Oxon, OX4 4XT 

Tel: 01865 481000 



PSP Asset Protection Ltd, Unit 2 Manor Farm Business Centre, Manor Lane, Stutton, Ipswich, IP9 2TD

Tel: 01473 745 375

Email: via enquiry form


Koha is an open source library system, generally thought of as free. However, to use properly in a school, it will need to be paid for at similar prices to other systems.


An open source library system marketed as free. No reports of usage in schools.


Suitable for primary and special schools

Libresoft Librarian- for primary and secondary school libraries and special schools 

Tel: 0330 223 4020 



MOL Sp. Z.o.o., Slaska, 35 – 37, 81 – 310 Gdynia, Poland

Tel +48 58 669 80 70


Pergamon Mu for primary and special schools

Please contact your nearest SLS to enquire, even if you do not regularly subscribe to them. 

You can find your nearest here

Reading Cloud- for primary and secondary school libraries and special schools

Education Software Solutions Ltd

Eastwood House, Glebe Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1RS

Tel: 0161 449 9357


Softlink - Oliver for secondary schools 

Softlink - Scout - for primary school libraries and special schools

Softlink Europe Ltd, 6 Langdale Court, Witney, Oxfordshire, OX28 6FG

Tel: 01993 883401


Tel: 01256 300790

Address:Applied Network Solutions Limited

The Innovation Centre, Norden House, Basing View, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 4HG  

Updated March 2022

Salary Scales for School Library Staff

NJC pay scales 
 ( PDF = njc-pay-scales-20190615.pdf )

These recommendations are based on the updated (April 2019) National Joint Council Schemes and Conditions of Service for England and Wales, and the National joint Council for Local Authorities Services (Scottish Council) for Scotland.

Please note: the recommendations are based on a standard 35 hour week and a full time contract. Term time only contracts will be pro-rata.


a) Senior Librarian/Head Librarian

With Head of Department status and managing library staff - recommendation: SCP 38 - 54.

This equates to a salary between £40,760 - £61,099.


b) Professionally qualified Librarian

With first degree or Masters degree in Library and Information Science - recommendation: SCP 23 - 38. This equates to a salary between £26,999 - £40,760.

Minimum of SCP 26 if chartered MCLIP or £ 29,636.

If teaching duties added to above, e.g. information skills programme - recommendation: SCP 31 - 43. This equates to a salary between £33,799 - £45,591.


c) Library Manager (unqualified) or recently qualified librarians

With day to day responsibility, including managing budget, development planning etc. - recommendation: SCP 18 - 25. This equates to a salary between £24,313 - £28,785.


d) Senior Clerical or Senior Library Assistant

Working with professional librarian - no strategic role but to include areas of responsibility - recommendation: SCP 7 - 11. This equates to a salary between £19,554 - £21,166.


e) Clerical or Library Assistant

working with professional librarian - no strategic role - recommendation: SCP 5 - 6. This equates to a salary between £18,795 - £19,171.

Minimum of SCP6 (£19,171) if City and Guilds or NVQ level 3 library assistants' qualification held.


Annual Leave

Since the Introduction of the Working Time Regulations in 1998, all staff, including those who work part-time, are entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks (equivalent) paid holiday per year.

In addition, if library staff are not employed for 52 weeks per year, two to three weeks paid employment may also be required during school holidays for stock-checks, planning and report writing etc.


Updated June 2019

Status of the Librarian/Library Manager

The School Library Association believes that the Librarian/Library Manager should:

  • have Head of Department status, in order that he/she can play a full part in school development and act effectively and in a proactive manner to support the developing needs of all departments
  • be included in staff and/or senior leader meetings to enable the Librarian to raise and discuss relevant issues, maintaining the high profile of the library across the school
  • be line-managed by a member of the School Management/Leadership Team with curricular responsibilities
  • have the status and authority to employ strategies for the effective management of the library in accordance with all school policies eg Health and Safety, Behaviour, Discipline, Inclusion etc.
  • have the authority to manage the library budget in accordance with school procedures and principles of best value
  • produce some reports to show impact and activity in the library, ideally tied to the school's aims and objectives
  • have some activity within both reading for pleasure and information literacy, or know why this isn't a priority for them/the school.

And in terms of professional development should:

  • have the same entitlement to INSET and Continuing Professional Development opportunities as teaching staff
  • be included in the school's staff appraisal programme
  • be allowed time to network with other School Librarians in the area, attend relevant meetings and actively participate in professional groups outside their school.

The Role of the School Librarian

The School Library Association believes that the School Librarian/Library Manager has an essential and unique specialist role to play in supporting pupils’ learning and their development into effective, independent learners and readers.

The School Librarian should be:

  • a partner with teaching staff in the education process
  • a partner in supporting individual learning behaviours
  • an acknowledged expert in resource and information provision and management
  • a leader and partner with teaching staff in the collaborative design and implementation of information literacy programmes throughout the school
  • a leader in creating and developing a climate to promote and support reading for pleasure across the school
  • an acknowledged partner with all departments to effectively support and resource each key stage
  • a partner in out of hours learning.

The School Librarian should have the same entitlement to continuing professional development as teaching staff and paid holiday as required by the Working Time Regulations.

Extended Project Qualification - EPQ

What is the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)?

EPQ is an A-level standard standalone qualification designed to extend and develop students' abilities beyond the A-level syllabus and prepare for university or their future career.

The EPQ allows students to choose and direct their own projects. Students plan and carry out research on a chosen topic which meets the criteria and is agreed by a supervisor. Many students will choose to complete an extended essay (5,000 words is the common guideline), but it could also be a musical or dramatic composition, report or artefact, backed up with paperwork. Students are also expected to deliver a 10-15 minute presentation on the project after completion. This forms part of the assessment and contributes to the final grade.

It is usually undertaken in Y12 or Y13 in addition to A’ levels.

UCAS information -

Benefits for students:

• increases critical, reflective and independent learning

• increases student motivation by allowing them to study topics of personal interest

• increases academic confidence

• develops and applies decision-making and problem-solving skills

• teaches planning, research, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and presentation skills

• demonstrates creativity, initiative and enterprise

• is preparation for further education, with an added bonus of an extra 28 UCAS points

• is recognised by universities and employers and provides a talking point in interviews for both

• it shows self-motivation and relevant skills to future employers

The Extended Project will develop and extend from one or more of the student’s study areas or from an area of personal interest or activity outside their main programme of study. 

Delivery of the EPQ involves teaching of the necessary skills for research – the ideal opportunity for library staff to become involved. It involves extended independent work by the student of at least 120 guided learning hours.

Students are required, with appropriate supervision, to:

• choose an area of interest

• draft a title and aims of the project for formal approval by the centre

• plan, research and carry out the project

• deliver a presentation to a non specialist  audience

• provide evidence of all stages of project development and production for assessment.

Awarding organisations



City & Guilds  



Pearson (Edexcel) 

Useful university sites with research and critical literacy skills: 

Research sites of resources to help: 

The taught elements within the EPQ involve the following:

• Project management and organisational skills

• Research skills and evaluation of sources Library support essential

• Report writing skills

• Referencing and bibliography creation Library support essential

• Presentation skills

• Reflection and evaluation

Demonstrating that while the library could help with all these elements, with research and referencing, along with the ethics of plagiarism it is vital to include the library.