We are looking for a tech-savvy, dynamic person to help the SLG National Committee with our online work! We have a great team of dedicated school librarians with a wide range of experience, and you will have lots of help and support in this role. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
The Reading Agency has published its long-awaited Reading Outcomes Framework. This tool is designed to ‘help improve impact evaluation across the sector…..It will help you understand, demonstrate and improve the impact of your activity to encourage reading. It will support you to make the case for investment and advocate for your work by outlining existing evidence about the outcomes of reading and providing guidance about collecting evidence about the impact your work makes.’ (Laura Venning, Reading Agency, Evaluation and Impact Research Manager). It is freely available to use across education, health and charities sectors. The toolkit is the end of the first phase and the Reading Agency asks anyone using it to give them feedback.
It includes a succinct one page framework of the outcomes of reading for pleasure and empowerment, sample survey questions which evaluate whether a project has impact on these outcomes and reference evidence about demonstrating how reading relates to these outcomes. The report and evaluation toolkit form a solid 72 pages, but it is well worth reading through it.
I have been interested in impact evaluation for a couple of years now and have developed some templates for Tower Hamlets SLS. This toolkit is a most valuable addition to the subject. Measuring reading for pleasure is notoriously difficult and potentially mainly anecdotal and subjective. This toolkit could contribute to producing measurable outcomes that can be used as advocacy.
The framework outlines four stages of analysis of a reading project from the ‘activity to encourage reading for pleasure and empowerment’ to potential reading impact outcomes. These may have a positive impact on health and wellbeing, intellectual outcomes, personal outcomes and social outcomes. These in turn lead to wider positive impact on cultural, economic and societal areas.
The survey questions are very detailed and are broadly similar to the ones used by the National Literacy Trust to evaluate their projects with children, such as Premier League Reading Stars and also The Reading Agency’s Chatterbooks book clubs . I have used this questionnaire myself with primary school children and, with guidance, it produces useful information and, if used before and after the project, potentially provides useful impact evaluation data. To be of greater value though you need to assess the continued impact some time later. The survey can also be used with other stakeholders.
The most interesting sections for me are the analysis tools and the references. As someone with no statistical background, I will be studying these to improve my skills.
Full details and links to the framework, the toolkit and an interactive version are at: https://readingagency.org.uk/news/blog/reading-outcomes-framework-toolkit.html
Lucy Chambers, SLG National Committee
By Alison Tarrant, MCLIP, MSc Econ Honour List Librarian, School Librarian of the Year Award 2016
Cambourne Village College is in its fourth year. We opened in September 2013 with a single year group, and have been building up year by year. Starting from scratch really enabled those running the school to think about what was needed – and a school library was definitely part of the plan. I was appointed as Librarian in the Easter term of 2013, which allowed me to plan an excellent library service.
Among some there is a misconception that the library is just a room full of books, and the Librarian someone who stamps them. Though the most visible aspect of the job, this is not excellent library service, and definitely doesn’t reflect the role of Librarian. At the core of excellent school library provision are two things: Information Literacy and Reading Development. These provide the fundamental helix which enables everything else.
Information Literacy (IL) is the ability to find, use and communicate information in an ethical manner,(1) and is often widened to include research skills – such as note taking and evaluating outcomes. It is teaching pupils the skills they need to maximise the opportunities the internet provides, while exercising criticism. As Librarian, I create worksheets that guide students through the research process we use. (2) I introduce this to all Year 7 classes at the start of the school year, and recap with other years as necessary. I lead sessions to introduce specific skills when required. I collaborate with teachers to provide resources that provide scaffolding for students, while allowing them freedom, and I produce videos that guide students through resources or skills as reminders for homework. I create Research Starter booklets for any topics where it is harder to find information at the right level – using short excerpts from higher level texts allows students access to the information without its being overwhelming. This creates a platform from which students can conduct their own research; once they have a foundation of knowledge they can access other information more easily, both in terms of understanding (3) and validity.
The Library stands astride a difficult gulf – supporting reading for pleasure while simultaneously ensuring pupils are progressing in their reading skills. Those who literally cannot read will probably fall under an intervention department, but there are plenty of students who fill the spectrum between ‘able to read’ and ‘fully fluent independent reader’. (4) At the most basic level, the Librarian’s job is to make this development easier by encouraging students to read, by connecting books (including e-books) and readers. Calling this ‘basic’ is not to underestimate its importance. There are pupils in CamVC who only read now because two years ago they found a book they loved – this can have long-lasting and potentially life-changing impact. Not all students will want to read, and I take a further step in trying to identify these students. ‘Attitude to Reading’ surveys given at the beginning of the year help us recognise those ‘reluctant readers’, while comparing the results to their reading ability allows us to identify different groups (‘can but won’t’; ‘can’t but will’ etc). This leads to intervention interviews with the students in question: What is it that is preventing this child from wanting to read? Is it a family matter? A self-consciousness? Do they struggle with idioms and contexts? Are they simply not used to it? It is only by talking to the students that we can get to the core of the issue and start to target the cause, rather than the symptoms. Of course we will not be successful with everyone, but sometimes having the conversation is more important than the outcome – the fact that someone cares can make a difference to a child.
Reading is important – it provides opportunities to experience someone else’s life decisions, and unveils the wider world in all its complexity, helping students understand themselves and each other better – and I am here to discuss this all with them. “Miss, what’s a hermaphrodite?”; “What do you think about the death penalty?”; “Why does this book have rude words in?” The journey of discovery is not complete without someone they can turn to and ask the questions that have been raised in their minds. The Librarian extends learning and guides curiosity – “Ah, you liked that one? Try this,” or places a book in the hands of someone who needs it (a book with an LGBTQ character for someone who is questioning their sexuality perhaps) because they will not ask for it, but it might be the most important book they will ever read.
For the first two years, the focus was on embedding the double helix – setting up the Patron of Reading scheme and ensuring library lessons were fully utilised with an activity to develop reading skills in each session. At the same time the library started to develop an atmosphere – warm, inviting and engaging. Each school library represents a school in the same way the daemons in Philip Pullman’s ‘The Northern Lights’ represent each character’s personality, and the library was starting to capture the best of the staff and school surrounding it. In the early days the library was empty, with far too few books (building the collection year by year is the only way that makes sense – allowing that flexibility to respond to changing curricula and students) and yet now the shelves are overflowing. We now have e-book lending set up and a few different e-resources to help students with their research. For us it is a combination of formats and information – not one versus the other. Books, e-books and the internet are all tools that are useful in different ways and for different things; part of my job is ensuring the students can select the appropriate one and use it to its full advantage.
The role of Librarian has developed as well, from the days of cataloguing and setting up the Library management system, whereas now it is more focused on the library being a whole school resource – including contributing to teaching. I am uniquely placed in having an overall view of what is being taught and when, so I created a curriculum map. Compiling this information is invaluable for realising opportunities for collaboration between teachers, and showing progression of knowledge. It gives me an opportunity to make sure my resources are up to date, and that any opportunities for research skills or reading lists are utilised. My knowledge of what is going on within the school makes teamwork with colleagues easier, and creates opportunities for collaboration between different members of staff. For some Librarians, using this knowledge means they can develop additional learning opportunities – whether this be through interactive videos, creative projects, or any other talents your Librarian has.
I contribute to the school at a strategic level. Attending Middle Leader meetings means I know the pressures and deadlines that exist within the school and enables me to provide assistance and contribute, for example, with suggestions for the school’s development plan. Given the central role the library plays in school life, this 360 degree view allows me to make sure the library is aligned with the school’s aims over the next year or so. Access to the development plan is essential for any library which functions as a department within the school, and ensures that the school is getting the most from its investment. It answers the fundamental question: Where is the library contributing to the school’s aims? My Library’s development plan is broad. It covers reading ages, inclusion, staff CPD, working with feeder primaries – and these are marked off against the annual report, showing the impact and value of the library and librarian.
It is only through being respected as a professional (5) in my own right that this excellent library service has been achieved. I am incredibly well supported by the Senior Leaders, with a sensible budget and access to CPD. (6) As the Library has developed, the role of a Library Assistant has become a necessity, and we are planning a long-term vision for library provision, laying out the core aims and priorities of the library. There are very few definite things in education, but research has shown that libraries that have this support, impact on student outcomes (7) regardless of economic status. Providing an excellent library service is far more than stamping books: it is varied, important and has a positive impact on both staff and students.
 Learning Resources in Schools, Library Association Guidelines for School Libraries (1992).
 Hirsch, E.D. ‘Why Knowledge Matters’, Harvard Education Press, 2016. P.83
 For more information on the different stages of reading CLPE have created a brilliant diagram that explains the fluid stages: https://www.clpe.org.uk/library-and-resources/reading-and-writing-scales
 I am a Chartered Librarian, and as a member of CILIP I adhere to the code of professional practice. For more information on chartering for librarians see: http://www.cilip.org.uk/cilip/jobs-careers/professional-registration/information-employers
 The School Library Association runs brilliant courses: http://www.sla.org.uk/training.php
As first published in Leading Change – The journal of the Leading Edge network.
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.
CILIP SLG National in collaboration with the London and South-East Group have recently run their second Pupil Librarian Training Day at the Elmgreen School with Librarians and students from 12 different schools.
The first activity of the day was varied and well-paced and focused on developing pupils’ customer service skills. All students were asked to evaluate and analyse some of the decisions that they have to make at the Library desk such as: What do you do when your friend wants you to favour her? How do you cope with disruptive students? Will you bend the rules to avoid a confrontation? Students were asked to consider their responses, and then vote for their choice of 3 possible answers to each question.
The programme of the day was also interspersed with ‘spot quiz’ questions that had students abuzz and keen for the fantastic book prizes available. One of the questions was particularly interesting because it asked to estimate the size of the largest book ever made. With dimensions close to 5m x 8m, it is called ‘This is Muhammed’, was made in Dubai, and is a compilation of stories highlighting the lifetime achievements of Islam’s Prophet.
Some of the schools contributed to the Library Showcase and the feedback from students and librarians has been overwhelmingly positive with a lot of ideas for competitions, clubs and events shared. Other activities also included the creation of a promotional poster for a new book with an audience vote during lunchtime.
The highlight of the day was an energetic presentation by the newly published Children’s author Abi Elphinstone, who bounced across the stage telling us about her adventures. Writing may seem a long way from her childhood ambition to become a Unicorn, but Abi has been to some amazing places, and collected all sorts of tales, names, traditions and myths which are woven into her stories. We saw the objects that have inspired her – the ankle bone of a sheep is a memorable one – they are used by children in Mongolia for a game, and Abi learned this when she stayed with Mongolian Eagle hunters.
Writers, she told us, have to live, because everything you see or do or learn about can become a part of your storytelling – “Our world is so magical, if we always look down at screens we miss so much of the magic.”
A major character in The Dream Snatcher is a wildcat and she spoke about how these critically endangered creatures are one of the few truly untameable beasts in the world. There is something thrilling about this quality of wildness, but you have to experience it, as Abi found when she visited a wolf sanctuary “If you hold a wolf, it’s like holding fierceness…and if I write a story about a wolf I’ll know now.”
Aspiring authors need two essential qualities: determination, and imagination. Abi tried for 7 years before a publisher accepted her writing, and she collected 96 rejection letters. Keep going, she says, fail lots, but keep going!
After such a successful day, CILIP School Libraries Group for London and the South East and the National Group intend to make this event a stable of our annual provision so keep an eye for next year event!
Is your library at the Heart of the School?
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.
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.
– 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.
WC1E 7AE London, LND