Category Archives: CILIP

Reading Rocks event, October 2016

From time to time, SLG is asked to send representatives to different events around the country to speak or to set up a stand.  This involved us getting involved with a stand in the ATL Conference earlier in the year, being represented and giving a talk to a Headteachers’ Teachmeet in the summer, and the Reading Rocks event this autumn.  Lucy Chambers from the committee attended this event, and wrote her report for us.  Every meeting we attend is a chance for us to interact with people we wouldn’t normally reach, and to spread the word about the great things school libraries are doing.

Lucy writes: ‘I attended the first one day Reading Rocks 2016 conference, established to ‘discuss ways to make reading rock for every pupil.’  near Warrington, to deliver a workshop on behalf of SLG.  This was an opportunity to speak at an event aimed at teachers rather than just librarians and is something the committee has been discussing for some time: how to cross the invisible barrier and promote the impact librarians can have on a school to educationalists.

The District CE Primary School in Newton-le-Willows has won awards for its approach to reading and has many inspirational reading areas, from several small libraries within the school to a Story Shack, a book-themed playground and a Little Library of books for parents.   They promote reading with stylish and interactive displays and regular reading events throughout the year.

My role was to advocate the value of school librarians, in this case in primary schools, and to promote SLG.  I also spoke about how I use regular Reading Year events to get children reading in my four schools in Tower Hamlets.  The day was devoted to literacy sessions of interest to primary school teachers, with several authors and promoters of reading schemes. Keynote speakers included James Clements, the founder of Shakespeare and More, who works with schools to develop the teaching of reading, and Mat Tobin, Senior Lecturer in English and Children’s Literature at Oxford Brookes’ School of Education, talking about the hidden messages in picture books , including a thought-provoking interpretation of ‘Not Now Bernard’, elicited with discussion from Year 1 to Year 6 pupils.

Workshops ranged from sessions promoting First News, Phoenix and other magazines to a project using rhythm and music to improve reading comprehension in low ability children. Other workshops included storyteller Dan Worsely, Into Film, Mat Tobin, Jonny Duddle and Nikki Heath.

Altogether, it was a very impressive event with some excellent speakers, a great range of exhibitors and an ambitious programme.  If you are a primary school librarian or teacher, look out for Reading Rocks 2017 and sign up!’

See the school’s website www.district.st-helens.sch.uk/ for further information

 

SLG Regional Event in Kent/SE London

CILIPSLG held one of its very successful Regional Training Days at Eltham College in South East London on October 24th.  The day was heavily over-subscribed, and there are plans to rerun the day next March for all those who were disappointed this time.  Like all of the training days, there was an eclectic mix of subjects, and everyone found something to interest them in the day.

The first speaker was Caroline Roche, who also hosted us in her Library at Eltham College.  Caroline also runs Heart of the School website. She talked about using technology to help the learners in your school, and EPQ students in particular.  She showcased Diigo, MySimpleShow and Animoto, and gave out practical How To worksheets after her talk.

Next came Matt Imrie from Farrington’s School.  Matt runs the very successful Teen Librarian newsletter and website.  Matt talked to us about Freenocomics – how to get stuff for your library for free, and how to encourage your students to blog about books.

Last speaker before lunch was Maggie Thomas from Bacon’s College.  Maggie told us about a radical refurbishment of her library which involved her in strategic thinking and planning, including a review of how she should be line managed.  She had amazing support from her Line Manager throughout the successful process.

During lunch there was a great opportunity to network, and also to play the newly published Murder in the Library from BoxClever Education.  Alex Gillespie, an English teacher who devised the game, set it out in Eltham College Library, and we were all encouraged to find out who had murdered the Library Assistant!  This was an excellent game involving deductive thinking and reasoning skills.  There are many levels to the game, and is suitable for all abilities.  Everyone enjoyed it and quite a few people bought copies for their libraries.

In the afternoon Rowena Seabrook from Amnesty International spoke to us about Human Rights issues in Teen Fiction.  Her talk was thought provoking, both in how to promote and how to protect human rights of the students in the school.  There was a lot of productive discussion around LGBTQ rights and fiction, and also representation of teenagers of all races and colours in your library stock.  We all had a lot to think about after her talk.

CILIPSLG tweeted throughout the day, and a Storify of the tweets can be found here.

CILIPSLG Regional events are held throughout the year in different parts of the country.  If you are interested in attending one of our low cost events then keep an eye on this page.  If you are interested in hosting a meeting in your school, please contact SLG through their pages on the CILIP website.

 

 

Essential Training

Educational Attainment and School Libraries

Is your library at the Heart of the School?

Date & Time:
Friday, 14 November 2014 – 10:00am to 4:00pm

Inspired by the recent CILIP report of the same name, this training day will explore the answers to key questions:
– Does your library service meet school priorities?
– Is it responsive to user needs?
– Are all your users aware of the services you offer?
– How can you ensure your service provides value for money and
supports school objectives?

The course will explore how you can make an impact within your organisation and promote your service to school stakeholders. Through practical examples and the application of case studies, delegates will discover how to ensure that the impact of their service on teaching and learning attainment is both visible and strategically aligned with school priorities.

Programme

An interactive programme will facilitate learning through a series of lectures, discussions and exercises. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with professionals from different schools and libraries where fresh perspectives may be revealed and reviewed.

Participants will:
– Explore practical ways to raise the visibility and educational impact of their service.
– Reflect on the features of an outstanding school library.
– Consider the strengths and weaknesses of their own service.
– Understand the benefits of social media and how to apply them in a school environment to positively impact pupil development both inside and outside the library.
– Learn how social media and blogs can be used to effectively brand the school library and improve communication with parents, students and staff and raise awareness of the library.

Speakers

Dawn Finch

Dawn Finch is a literacy and reader development consultant and vice-chair of the London & South East School Libraries Group. With 25 years of experience in both school and public libraries, Dawn’s career in training and library development includes working for the UK’s top training companies. She has done extensive research on the implications of the National Curriculum and the Framework for Literacy on library services, has worked with many schools in establishing and managing an effective school library and is active in reading and literacy campaigns. Dawn’s portfolio also includes delivering creative writing workshops to children. A published author, Dawn is a member of both the Society of Authors and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Address:
CILIP HQ

7 Ridgmount Street

WC1E 7AE London, LND

United Kingdom

Contact Details

Amanda Berrisford
020 7307 8700

Booking Information

Event Cost:
CILIP Members: £96 (£80 +VAT)
Non-Members: £115.20 (96+VAT)

Library and Information Sector Subject Tags

Event Format

– See more at: http://www.cilip.org.uk/events/educational-attainment-and-school-libraries#sthash.M0Gu5dGZ.dpuf

Moving English Forward – Ofsted, paperwork, policies and the school librarian

In 2012 Ofsted published the document – Moving English Forward. Their concept behind the document was to attempt to answer the question: how can attainment in English be raised in order to move English forward in schools? CILIP School Libraries Group for London and the South East felt that this was such a huge and complicated issue that it warranted a training day to help us understand what these new changes meant for school librarians.

We invited Adam Lancaster (2012 School Librarian of the Year and literacy champion) to be our guest speaker to help shed some light on this issue and introduce us to the implementation of the document.  It was a fantastic and incredibly interesting day and I have taken the time to summarise the key points here, but there was so much in the day it was very difficult to encapsulate it all. I hope I have done the day justice.

We had as our starting point the new Ofsted inspection criteria and the latest government White Papers as well as Moving English Forward. The new Ofsted framework has been updated to take into account the falling and low literacy levels of young adults and children in our country.  The Ofsted inspection framework now makes specific mention of reading for pleasure, and of creating a specific reading for pleasure policy within schools. Ofsted inspectors will now be reading with children (with a particular focus on year 7 and 8 pupils of high and low ability) and are expecting pupils to be reading materials “deemed appropriate for their age.” (Ofsted quote) The biggest change in the framework is the push to ensure that literacy is interwoven with every single subject on the curriculum. Literacy should now be considered everyone’s business and not just an issue for the English department.

With that all in mind we welcomed Adam to CILIP HQ to help us understand what this all means for school librarians.

Firstly, Adam talked about Literacy in schools and the need for teachers to be preparing pupils in advance for all subjects that they will study. “Teachers talking to pupils about their research beforehand makes their work more purposeful” This all makes sense, and we know that a prepared pupil comes to the library with the tools that they need to help themselves. To support this Adam recommended the PLUS method of learning at these stages – Purpose, Location, Use, Self evaluation. The concept behind this is at the root of the guidelines for what makes outstanding teaching – the development of a pupil who is a successful independent learner.

We then talked about how we see ourselves as school librarians. In the discussion we saw ourselves as nurturers, supporters, facilitators, energisers, readers, presenters, event managers, organisers and general dogsbody! But it was clear that not many of us see ourselves primarily as educators. Adam discussed how we should raise our profile within the school and engage fully with the educational process.

“Know the game and play it!” Every school is different and has a different feel, it is vital for school librarians to know who can be helpful to you and why. It is also important to be reading all available policies and documents on the teaching of literacy. Be informed. Link what you do to what others in the school are doing, intermesh your work with theirs. This is not just about sticking with the English department – as we say, literacy is everyone’s business and it is important to work with other departments. Map your aims against the school’s policies – and be certain that you can always deliver, and over-deliver!

Something that came through very strongly was the need for school librarians to be more pro-active in their schools. “Don’t be, or be perceived to be a victim!” It is time for school librarians to take a stronger stance for what they can do, and to show what they are capable of. To do this the key is obviously to be fully informed about literacy issues, and about documents like Moving English Forward.

School librarians should know and be able to quickly identify low level readers and have a strategy to deal with them. They should also know how these pupils are being taught in class, and how they are being assessed. What is specifically being done by you to raise the reading levels of pupils? To know this it makes sense to understand the assessment process in school, and to feel comfortable using higher level linguistic and literary terms – just like a teacher.

It wouldn’t be a challenging talk without a bit of controversy, and Adam does believe that school librarians need to take on a role that is more intermeshed with the teaching of reading and literacy within the school and to change the way we see the school library. Librarian as teacher is a hot topic at the moment, particularly in these days of performance related pay. Personally I feel that the school library is part of an educational establishment and therefore needs to be part of a pupil’s education. I do feel that school librarians should see themselves as educators. There is an average of twenty five teaching hours a week in school, and every single moment should be getting something new into a child’s head. It is a tiny part of their lives – and I don’t feel that it is unrealistic for them to be learning for every bit of the time that we have them – including in the library.

That is not to say that these need to be lessons in the strict sense, as school librarians we are using our knowledge and passion to inspire and enthuse pupils about reading, and that’s still learning. We want them to enjoy reading and to form the habits for it so that they progress and always have reading in their lives. To do this we must understand the educational nature of progression, as well as still making it fun and enjoyable. We are school librarians, and thankfully the nature of our job is one of multitasking!

A bit more controversy…. Dewey (brace yourselves) does not always suit your pupils, and so be prepared to arrange your library to suit your pupils. Ok, now this one raises a lot of eyebrows and is a detailed issue that I will cover in a longer post later. I’ll just say that I have seen Adam’s shelving scheme in action at another school and it really does work. He has rearranged the stock according to termly requirements and the demands of the curriculum. The books do still have their spine labels, but are split into a number of parallel arrangements around the library. Pupils can come in and quickly work out where the books that they need are, and take them out. Simple. Adam’s argument for this is that we should be teaching pupils that when they enter a library they should first be aware that the room has an organisation system, and next they look at the plan to see how it is arranged.

As I say, it’s a contentious issue and one that I will give more space to in a longer blog post – but I warn you in advance, you’ll be looking at Dewey very differently after!

And on to Ofsted inspections. I know how frustrating it is for librarians to work flat out and then, when the inspectors come, they don’t even step in the library…. Adam says they shouldn’t have to! Now, this sounds like more controversy, but hear me out, it makes perfect sense and is a bit revelatory. A fully integrated and successful school library is evident from the moment the inspector walks in the building. The positive impact of the library should be evident in the building and in the teaching and it should show. The library will be referenced in teaching and in the very fabric of the building – in posters, displays, but also in the written work that the children generate. Before the inspectors come they will have researched the school and the library should be on the website so they can take a look at the space there, but they have a very limited amount of time inside the building and a visit to the library will not always be top on their lists. If you are doing it all right and the library is a vital part of the school, and an essential cog in the machine of their education, it will show in every classroom they enter.

Almost all schools now would claim to have a whole school reading ethos – but do they really? Are pupils actually reading for pleasure and can this be seen in every classroom and in every teacher? Does the school genuinely and actively embrace reading or is it lip-service? We need ALL teachers from every subject to be actively demonstrating their enthusiasm and love for books and reading in every classroom and every lesson.

So, summing up the key points of Adam’s talk…

As school librarians we need to prioritise – are we spending time on things that will have a positive impact on learning? That is why we are there after all. This is an educational establishment, not a public library and so our priorities should be different.

Show the impact of your actions – has it made a difference? We need to ensure that everything that we do links into teaching and learning. Make it enjoyable! When a child says “I don’t like reading” what they are actually saying is “I don’t like the process that I’ve been put through in the pursuit of reading success.” Is it all working? Are we having a positive impact on the reading in our school? Would your reading ideas work better than those currently in place?

Be informed about literacy teaching. You are part of this process and therefore you should understand fully how the pupils are taught and assessed. Stay on top of government and Ofsted changes and reform, read the White Papers. We have opted to work in an educational environment and that should have an impact on how we do our jobs. Being informed means that you are talking the educational language that the children are accustomed to, and it makes it easier to find things that they will enjoy and yet still be considered part of their reading progression. We need to use everything we can to set up reading habits that they will carry for life.

Use individual teachers. We have a tendency to assume that the SLT are going to be the ones that will help us to implement policies and library related engagement, but why are we doing that? I for one was sagely nodding at the “get the SLT on board” comment  from others – but I was wrong!  Adam is on the SLT and knows how hard it is to get teachers to take on a scheme that they are not fully engaged with. At a grassroots level the only schemes that really work in schools are the ones that the teachers like and support. If you want something done it is far better to show individual teachers how it can benefit them and have them support your ideas up the chain. Work your way up the chain, not down, and you’ll have better success than yet another policy or idea mooted out by the SLT to resistant teachers. Understand the politics, remember, know the game and play it!

And one of the most important points – don’t be precious! You have to be prepared to separate what you think is best for the library, from what might be best for the educational needs of the pupils in your school. It’s not personal, and it’s not about you, it’s about what is best for the educational needs of these pupils.

The most important point though – believe in the importance of what you do! What we do as school librarians is incredibly important. We are giving these young people the ultimate transferable skill to vastly improve the quality of their lives – reading.

 

Footnote – the afternoon of this day was spent on library policy documents, Reading for Pleasure policies, and evidence gathering and these will be covered in separate blog posts so please follow this blog for further info, and on twitter follow @dawnafinch or use #slgtraining.

To find out more about Adam Lancaster please visit his website and follow him on twitter @dusty_jacket

Why children deserve a school librarian.

Dawn Finch, YA author, school library and literacy consultant, vice-chair London and South East School Libraries Group (SLG)
Follow @dawnafinch

With a decade of UK school libraries under my belt, and as a YA author, it is easy for me to see why your child needs a school library with a trained professional to run it. I’ve seen first-hand the positive difference this makes not only to your child’s development in literacy, but also to their enjoyment of reading and their linguistic progression. It’s not just about stamping books out, it’s about understanding and nurturing your child’s reading, guiding them so that they can successfully navigate the maze of reading and emerge triumphant and in charge. So much more than Biff and Chip and struggling to the end of a scheme. It’s about becoming a lifelong reader and having something in your life that will change it for the better. That’s what school librarians do, and they do it because it’s their passion and it’s important to them. Your child deserves that person in their life.

You can read the research for yourself – try this survey from Australia that shows the impact school libraries have on children’s literacy.
Or maybe look at what’s being said in the House of Lords.
Or just some common sense from a writer who knows a thing or two about reading. Neil Gaiman’s lecture for the Reading Agency is well worth a watch.

But (despite a rather ill-informed waffling thread on MumsNet) I know I don’t really need to convince parents that their child deserves a well stocked library run by a qualified librarian. You know it makes a positive difference to their education, and their lives.

Sadly it seems that increasingly the people we need to prove this to are head teachers and SLT members. As parents you need some evidence to prove your case and to get what your children deserve. So, when you are visiting schools to decide which one to commit to for your child’s future – take this leaflet with you. This explains exactly why your child deserves a good school library with a professional librarian. Download it here from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, print it and take it with you when visiting prospective schools. It will help you to see if the library you are being shown is a successful and supportive place, or just a room full of books. The leaflet will give you key points to look out for, and questions to ask. This way you can be sure that your child will be getting the support and materials that they require, and deserve.

This is not about a librarian banging on about her profession, it is about your child’s one shot at a brighter future. Their next school might make or break them, so why not expect the best? It is a simple fact that their literacy levels will be much higher if they have access to a real library. We’re not talking a room with books in – this is about real libraries run by professional people who have the right training for the job. This is a highly skilled profession, and your child deserves the right support from trained people. This is your child’s right to a better future, don’t stand for anything less.

A poster from the incredibly talented Sarah McIntyre says it all – a powerful search engine with a heart.

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