Tag Archives: education

Counter-extremism in schools: the new PREVENT guidance

In a bid to tackle the phenomenon of radicalisation, the government has passed  the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 which affects every school in the country. In a matter of weeks, every school has been asked to provide clear safeguarding measures to address radicalisation: this is called the PREVENT action which comes with clear guidance for school and school staff.

The guidance is clear that:

  • Extremism and radicalisation are safeguarding concerns and should be dealt with using the school’s existing safeguarding procedures.
  • Schools must ensure that children understand the ‘diverse…religious and ethnic identities in the UK’
  • The Prevent duty does not require teachers to carry out unnecessary intrusion into family life

There are 5 themes within the Prevent duty:

  • Risk assessment: There is no single way to identify a young person who is at risk. Small changes in behaviour might indicate there are concerns about their wellbeing so members of staff MUST refer anything to the Designated Lead for Safeguarding who can then carry out a risk assessment
  • Working in partnership: every school should work in partnership with the Police. There is a telephone helpline for extremism 020 7340 7264. If you a member of staff is concerned that a child’s life is in immediate danger, or that they may be planning to travel to Syria / Iraq dial 999 or call the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321
  • Staff training: whole staff training is to be carried out in every school on this issue.
  • IT policies: Staff should develop an awareness of online risks and how extremists use social media to engage with young people. Every teacher needs to be aware of the online activity of extremist and terrorist groups
  • Building resilience to radicalisation: In all lessons, teaching, support teaching and non-teaching staff should seek to offer a ‘safe environment’ to explore sensitive or controversial topics

Use of Social Media by ISIS/ISIL and similar groups

As with other online harms, every member of staff needs to be aware of the risks posed by the online activity of extremist and terrorist groups. Keeping children safe from risks posed by terrorist exploitation of social media should be approached in the same way as safeguarding children from any other online abuse. In the same way that staff are vigilant about signs of possible physical or emotional abuse in any of their pupils, if you have a concern for the safety of a specific young person at risk of radicalisation, you should follow the school safeguarding procedures and report your concern to Elga Stuck (Designated Lead.

ISIL media presents ISIL as the powerful creators of a new state.. When ISIL’s official media groups release material online the group encourages supporters on social media to share the material – this is what gives ISIL its large reach, particularly to young people.

  • ISIL celebrates and promotes an image of success online in order to attract young people – it tells them that ISIL are winning side and offer an exciting life.
  • ISIL portray their ‘Caliphate’ as an ideal, utopian state where Muslims will find status and belonging.
  • ISIL insists that it is the personal duty of Sunni Muslims to support them and travel to the ‘Caliphate’.
  • ISIL portrays itself as the only group able to defend Sunnis from the Assad regime, the Iraqi army or the threat of the West.

ISIL uses:

  • Facebook: ISIL supporters use this to share content, such as news stories and YouTube videos, among their peer groups.
  • Twitter: There are a large number of pro-ISIL accounts sharing ISIL propaganda.
  • You Tube: This is used to host videos, both of official ISIL output and videos created by users themselves. Users post YouTube links in Twitter and Facebook.
  • Ask FM: FM People considering travel to Syria or Iraq use Ask.fm to ask British jihadis and female ISIL supporters about travel, living standards, recruitment, fighting and broader ideology. The answers given by ISIL supporters are encouraging, saying all their difficulties will be solved if they travel to the region.
  • Instagram: This is used by fighters and ISIL supporters to share the photosets frequently produced by various ISIL media organisations. ISIL supporters also use Instagram to share pictures of their life in Syria, often showing landscapes and images suggesting they are living a full and happy life.
  • Tumblr: This is exploited by fighters to promote longer, theological arguments for travel. Tumblr is popular with female ISIL supporters, who have written blogs addressing the concerns girls have about travelling to the region, such as leaving their families behind and living standards in Syria.

PM: On social media, ISIL supporters frequently encourage others to message them on closed peer-to-peer networks when asked for sensitive information, such as on how to travel to the region, what to pack and who to contact when they arrive. Popular private messaging apps include WhatsApp, Kik, SureSpot and Viber.

How can school librarians support the school agenda in this?

Our recommended resources include:

Counter-Extremism (narratives and conversations), an open-access video database put together by the London Grid for Learning

Inspire, a counter-extremism and women’ rights organisation lead by Sara Khan

 

Stock check issue: have you got the right exam board textbooks in your library?

With the recent changes in the National Curriculum, it is more important than ever to ensure that your library has the right textbooks and revision guides for all the subjects taught in school.

An efficient and effective way to keep track of all these changes is to approach a member of teaching staff in every department with a quick tick list of all the exam boards available in their subject. It is absolutely guaranteed that they will be able to tick straightaway the exam board used by their department. Conducting a stock check of all your textbooks and purchasing the most appropriate ones has never been easier!

Where can you find all the information about the exam boards?

I have also discovered a very useful feature of the new Browns Books for Students website which is very useful: in the Curriculum section, they have created a new area called “New Curriculum” in order to keep all the new resources separate from the old ones. In here you can find not only the titles of all the new textbooks and revision guides by subject but also the new set English Literature texts. The also have a feature that I have been using a lot which lists suggestions for support reading for GCSE and A-Level subjects alongside ideas for wider reading and teacher resources.

To get you started, you can find below a list of the exam boards for some of the most common subjects for GCSE, AS and A-Level. Give it a try!

GCSEs

English Language: AQA , OCR, Pearson, WJEC Eduqas

English Literature: AQA, OCR, Pearson, WJEC Eduqas

Maths: AQA, OCR, Pearson

 

AS AND A-LEVELS

Art & Design

AS: AQA, OCR, Pearson, WJEC Eduqas

A-Level: AQA, OCR

Biology

AS + A-Level: AQA, OCR A, OCR B, Pearson A, Pearson B

Business Studies

AS + A-Level: AQA, OCR, Pearson, WJEC Eduqas

Chemistry

AS: OCR

Computer Science

AS + A-Level: AQA, OCR, WJEC Eduqas

Economics

AS + A-Level: AQA, OCR, Pearson A, Pearson B, WJEC Eduqas

English Language

AS + A-Level: AQA, OCR, Pearson, WJEC Eduqas

English Language and Literature

AS + A-Level: AQA, OCR, Pearson, WJEC Eduqas

English Literature

AS: AQA A, AQA B, OCR, Pearson, WJEC Eduqas

A level: OCR, Pearson, WJEC Eduqas

History

AS + A-Level: AQA, OCR, Pearson

Psychology

AS: AQA

A-Level: AQA, OCR

Physics

AS + A-Level: AQA, OCR A, OCR B, Pearson

Sociology

AS + A-Level: AQA, OCR, WJEC Eduqas

 

The Beating Heart of the School – a London & SE SLG course

heart image copyright free

On Friday 14th November 2014, SLG London and South East committee hosted a training course to attempt to deal with some of the issues facing school librarians. This event was inspired by issues raised in the APPG document published in May 2014; The Beating Heart of the School. This is a summary of the key elements of the course.

Post written by Dawn Finch

The Beating Heart document has highlighted both the need for a professional librarian in schools, and the need of schools to have a more enlightened view of what exactly a school librarian does. Sadly it seems from their findings that in schools there is still a very archaic view of the abilities of school librarians, and this can hinder how much they are able to be part of the higher level or management structure of the school. Ultimately this can have a directly negative effect on pupil progress, and is essentially a misuse of valuable resources.

In the course we discussed how a successful and ‘outstanding’ school library is such an integral part of the school that its influence reaches far beyond its walls. It simply is not possible to be a “Beating Heart” if the pump does not have the strength to reach every limb! So how do we break out beyond our walls? We have all done every event and reading initiative we can think of, and taken part in every scheme and promotion we can – but most of us are still finding it hard to keep a high profile, and to increase the number of our loyal users.

One of the most successful strategies for creating extended loyalty for the school library is to engage in certain branding activities; make a logo, create a theme, decide what image you want to represent for your library and be persistent and consistent with your promotion of the library. Our aim should be that as soon as anyone sees our logo, they should have an instant understanding of what we represent, and of what a library can do for them. Branding is recognition in a heartbeat, and recognition creates loyalty. What we are looking to do is create a feeling, an emotion, and ultimately loyalty.

On the day we also looked at the issues surrounding digital literacy. The days of ICT skills in schools has passed, and school librarians are now at the front-line of the teaching of digital literacy. We live in a world of cyber-crime and cyber-bullying and our children’s best defence of this is knowledge and understanding. We cannot expect our children to protect themselves online, or to behave well, if we do not model good behaviour in schools. To this end we need to be using social media and blogging just as they do, but to use it to show young people how it should be done.

There are many arguments against the use of social media in schools but, as Ofsted are increasingly saying, it will soon not be possible for schools to achieve an outstanding rating if they fall behind in digital literacy. The fact remains that some of the finest resources available for researchers are now in blog form. To deny use of blogs and blogging in schools is to deny access to some of the most accurate first-hand resources available. This denial will also act as a kind of exclusion policy exposing the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in the classroom.  If we do not allow our pupils access to blogs for information and research, we are simply encouraging unreliable wiki-research and creating a two-tier system of work.

As an example, let’s look at the landing of Philae on Comet 67P. Pupils researching this historic event can read Wikipedia, or newspaper reports, but how much better is it to access the blog of the European Space Agency and subscribe to their updates?

How about if your pupils are studying fashion? During London Fashion Week they might be able to find a newspaper report about the week, or even some smaller articles on the official site. How much better would it be to follow the accredited blog of a young designer as they go through the process for the first time?

Then we should take into account the fabulous resources that we have at our fingertips to protect our own service. How would we have access to articles like this one by Phillip Ardagh about the importance of libraries if we did not access blogs? We are not even touching on the importance of Twitter and other social media as a vital communication tool, but needless to say it is all part of the same move towards a digitally literate society.

The issue of cyber-bulling and trolling is at the top of many schools’ agendas, and is often an excuse used to prevent access to social media sites. This can lead to failings in how children perceive social-media, and failings in how schools deal with cyber-bullying issues. The children that I have supported through these issues still complain that school doesn’t “believe it’s real.” Pupils often complain that adults (including teachers) still insist that the hurt felt from online insults and persecution is not real. They are often still told that they should “get over it” or “forget it” or “ignore it.”  It is very real, and the key to preventing it is to first accept the reality of it. The “sticks and stones” line is dated and insulting. If you hit me with a stick, I’ll heal. If you cut me down with savage words I may carry those scars for the rest of my life. Embracing the hurt is the first step to preventing it from happening, and the first step towards stopping your pupils from behaving in this way themselves. The next step is using social media in lessons and as an educational tool.

We, as school librarians, have a duty to provide what our pupils need, and that is information in any form and format. We should do this by using social media in both our communication methods, and in our service to our young learners. By staying at the cutting edge, and using every tool at our disposal, we will future-proof our service whilst providing what our pupils need to fully progress as both informed learners, and socially well-adjusted adults.

Course delivered by Dawn Finch

Literacy and school library consultant, writer of children’s fiction and non-fiction books.

www.dawnfinch.com

Footnote; we will be revisiting elements of this course in much greater details, including supporting EPQs, in our April LibMeet as well as our Summer 2015 training courses. Follow this blog for more information. If you are a CILIP member you can log in and see our events posted here.

All of our events are open to both CILIP members and non-members, but if you are a member the cost of events will be lower.



Documents referred to on this training course can be downloaded by using the links below;

The Beating Heart of the School – APPG report on school librarieshttp://www.cilip.org.uk/cilip/advocacy-campaigns-awards/advocacy-campaigns/libraries-all-party-parliamentary-group/beating

Moving English Forward – Ofsted

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/moving-english-forward

National Curriculum for English (2014/2015)  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study

 

 

Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award

This new Award is to recognise the contribution made by pupils who work in their school libraries, to acknowledge the skills gained and to give them the recognition they deserve, both within and outside their school community.

Nominations can be made by the School Librarian, by emailing the nomination to president@cilip.org.uk by 31 October 2014.

A shortlist of candidates will be drawn up by the Judging Panel and announced during the first week of the school term in January. Shortlisted pupils will be asked to submit a portfolio of evidence by 13th February 2015 and the shortlisted nominees will be invited to an Awards Ceremony, to be held on Thursday 12th March at a London venue.

The winner of the Award will receive:

£100 worth of books
£100 worth of books for their school library
Glass book trophy x 2 for the winner and for their school librarian/library
A certificate

Shortlisted nominees will receive:

£50 worth of books
A certificate
For full information about the award and the nomination criteria, please download the guidelines below.

To submit a nomination, please use the link below to download the required paperwork.

School libraries
– See more at: http://www.cilip.org.uk/school-libraries-group/pupil-library-assistant-year-award#sthash.c60yvYdz.dpuf

BETT 2015

A lot of our members have found the BETT (the British Educational Training and Technology tradeshow) incredibly useful, and tickets are now available for 2015. The event is held at the ExCell in London’s Docklands from 21st – 24th January 2015

The organisers describe the event as…

Bett is the world’s leading technology event that brings together innovation and inspiration to the education sector. The event attracts +35,000 professionals within the industry and has been celebrated for over 30 years. 

There’s no better place to meet your peers and discover latest technologies than Bett 2015. 

Register for 2015 and: 

  • Be first to see inspirational new solutions and launches
  • Learn what 2015 has in store with unmissable seminars
  • Network, share your ideas and keep up to date with the industry
  • Gain insights through inspirational speakers in workshops and seminars”

The event also hosts the School Leaders Summit which is described as…

The education space is one which is constantly evolving, and every school in the UK is thinking about how it can deal with these changes. From the new Ofsted framework and shifts in assessment to the National Curriculum and academy conversion, the goal posts are shifting and it can be impossible to keep up. School management teams are finding themselves faced with a fluctuating environment they are under pressure to adapt to and prepare for – the School Leaders Summit aims to provide guidance and insight to help deal with these issues. 

Read more: http://www.bettshow.com/Content/School-Leaders-Summit-Guidance-in-school-leadership#ixzz3G2C5nSsb

Read more about the event here: http://www.bettshow.com/Content/Why-visit-Bett-2015/#ixzz3G2Bryx5Y

Register to visit the event here. BETT Registration.

Harry Potter Night 2015

Bloomsbury have made this exciting announcement about the launch of Harry Potter Night in February 2015. Their press launch said this….

February 5th 2015 will see the first ever Harry Potter Book Night. This exciting event gives new and existing fans a chance to share the wonder of J.K. Rowling’s unforgettable stories and, most excitingly, to introduce the next generation of readers to the unparalleled magic of Harry Potter. You are hereby invited to embrace the magic and banish the midwinter* blues!

Bloomsbury Children’s Books is inviting schools, bookshops, libraries and community groups to host early-evening events in celebration of Harry Potter Book Night. We’re creating a complete Harry Potter Book Night Kit – available for free download – offering you everything you need to plan and host an unforgettable evening. The only missing ingredient is your own ideas and flair!

The kit includes invitation templates, an event poster, games, activities and quizzes as well as ideas for dressing up and decorating the venue. Booksellers, librarians and teachers, register now to receive the kit. Registration will close on Friday 28th November. 

In addition to the community events outlined above, there will be public events in London and key regions around the UK, a major competition for UK schools and many further treats and surprises – all celebrating J.K. Rowling’s seven iconic Harry Potter books – to be revealed very soon. 

Bloomsbury Children’s Books will be marking Harry Potter Book Night on February 5th in our key territories, giving fans across the world an opportunity to join in the celebrations. Sign up to our Harry Potter newsletter for updates in the run up to the big night.

*That’ll be midsummer if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere!”

This looks well worth making a note of!

More details on the Bloomsbury website

Preparing a Reading For Pleasure policy

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In March 2012 Ofsted published the document Moving English Forward. This document was designed to tackle the problem of low and falling literacy levels in the UK and, for the first time, it mentions the need for a specific Reading For Enjoyment/Pleasure policy (see Moving English Forward, paras 65 – 71, pages 29-31) and we have seen evidence of these expectations on many Ofsted inspection reports since then. Mention of the presence of such a policy, or the lack of one, has been featuring on the front page of many returned reports since November 2012 when the new inspection framework was implemented.

To help school librarians engage with the process of implementing this policy in their schools, CILIP SLG ran a course dealing with both the document Moving English Forward, and policy preparation. Barbara Ferramosca lead a workshop on writing a Reading for Pleasure policy on this day and it proved most informative and useful.

My guest post today is written by Barbara, school librarian at Lilian Baylis Technology School in London – a school that was rated by Ofsted as “an outstanding school in all aspects” after their inspection under the new framework early in 2013.

If you have any questions about this post, please comment and they will be forwarded to Barbara.

 Preparing a Reading for Pleasure Policy

 

Every school must provide a School Reading for Pleasure Policy during an Ofsted inspection: it is a simple fact that has huge consequences for our profession and a huge potential that we cannot afford to miss.

Promoting a reading for enjoyment ethos is our field of expertise and it would not surprise me if a member of your School Leadership Team had already frantically accosted you with the question: “What are we doing to promote reading for pleasure in this school?”.  If they have not, you must take the initiative and write the policy: if you present it to them, they will probably be just grateful that it is something they do not need to think about anymore, a box ticked in their inspection checklist!

During our workshop, discussions lead to some very important points to consider in preparation for an inspection.

Find endorsement for your policy

The policy is a public document, an official school policy and it is at the heart of what you do: it explains your library commitment and beliefs in nurturing a genuine lifelong interest in reading in all your students. It does it by clearly acknowledging  the widest possible definition of the term “reading for pleasure”  and by involving different stakeholders that will give weight to the document. If it is a document whose principles are agreed upon by students, governors, members of staff and parents, it will become an important  reference document for your service.

It always sounds a daunting task to write a policy, especially if you have never written one before and it could become quite challenging and time-consuming to try to get all of these stakeholders involved. However, if time is of the essence, make sure to involve at least your students as a matter of priority.

Ensure that students are on your side

There is the possibility that Ofsted inspectors will not come and visit the library or speak to you . Your reading for pleasure policy is but a way to show what the library is doing because there is another more powerful voice that you can use to make sure that your message comes across loud and clear to them. Inspectors will speak to your students in several occasions and you must make sure that they will speak highly of the library and the impact that has on their attitude towards reading. Let them be your ambassadors. As a result of this, our advice was not to fret and spend a lot of time trying to put together a complicated and long policy but keep it simple, short and to the point.

What should a reading for pleasure policy include?

The Teachers’ organisation has some very useful guidance on how to draft a comprehensive policy. They specify that a school Reading for Pleasure Policy or Statement could include the following:

  • a statement on who/what the policy is for;
  • a clear outline of the difference between the Reading for Pleasure policy and the school literacy policy: this is absolutely necessary and we cannot underestimate the importance of reiterating this difference, especially with the Leader Management Team of our school. Literacy is a direct effect of Reading for enjoyment and we must ensure that we make clear the difference between the two in the clearest terms possible.
  • a statement about the importance of using the widest definition of reading throughout the school. This could include newspapers, e-books, comics, etc. this is the point in your policy where you decide on your school’s definition of reading for pleasure. Ideally you want to use the widest definition possible and have it officially accepted in order to challenge any possible decisions that are made in the future that threaten our students’ right to choose what they want to read.
  • a statement on the value of reading for pleasure and how it links to wider academic, social and emotional development: you must use authoritative sources and use quotes from these sources in order to give clear evidence of its impact. We have attached a brief bibliography of studies that you may want to refer to or quote for this purpose
  • access and equalities issues in relation to reading for pleasure. This should include accessible formats as well as consideration of the content of the books made available for use by the children: your policy must clearly state a commitment of the library to provide different books and resources in different formats in order to meet the needs of your students (i.e audiobooks, dyslexia-friendly publications, ebooks, books in other languages, etc.). Firstly, there must be an official acknowledgement that students may prefer to access stories in formats other than the printing. This is also particularly important in terms of the financial impact of such a statement simply because books in different formats cost more than simple paperbacks!
  • the importance of the role of the teacher and other adults in school in relation to fostering a love of reading through a wide range of activities: this is the point in your policy when you acknowledge the importance of using role models in the school to support your message and that every single member of staff is responsible for reinforcing a positive attitude towards reading for enjoyment. This is what the inspectors will look for and now is probably a good time to get your Headteacher on board with this idea!
  • links to planning for reading for pleasure across the curriculum for both the whole school and individual classes: after writing all the above, make sure to mention, maybe a series of bullet points, what the library is doing in order to give some concrete examples. As mentioned before, you can decide whether you want to write all the initiatives that you manage in detail. Discussions during the workshop lean towards writing brief descriptions rathen than complex and detailed ones.
  • information about the practical ways in which home-school links can support the school policy: links with parents and how to empower them them to support their children is on the checklist of every inspection and we cannot miss to mention how the library contribute to this. Even if you just attend parents’ evenings or academic review days with a library stand and give posters out, include this in your policy!
  • a statement about the importance of the use of the school library and making links with the local public library;
  • a commitment by the school to ensuring that all pupils have regular access to the school library, properly staffed, including the consideration of free access at break, lunchtimes and before/after school: this may sound redundant however in many occasions we have heard of colleagues’ experiences where the library was used as classroom or as an occasional venue for school events that are not led by the librarian. It is important not leave out a clear commitment from your school part to ensure that students have the opportunity to visit your library on their own free will to browse or borrow a book.
  • a statement on the budget share for reading and library resources – it should be adequately funded on an annual basis, in line with other school budget areas: budget, budget, budget… in a quick show of hands exercise, it was pretty clear that the majority of the librarians attending our course felt that the library was underfunded. After a number of considerations, we felt that we had two big weapons in our arsenal to change this situation: firstly, your school’s FEAR of Ofsted. Secondly, the fact that reading is appearing more and more often in the FIRST page of many Ofsted school reports. We must turn this fear to our advantage by asking our school Leadership Management Team these simple questions: “How confident are you that students are happy with the resources available in the library? How confident are you that they will answer positively and enthusiastically about their attitudes towards reading and the initiatives led by the school? How confident are you that ALL students are aware of the importance of reading for pleasure to their future?” Now is the time to push the point that a library which is understaffed and underfunded will never achieve these goals. To make your point even more effective, do not hesitate to mention other schools’ reports where reading is mentioned: Adam Lancaster showed us a number of examples of reports of other schools in his area so his advice for us was to find these reports and use them!
  • implications for professional development and support: is the school ready to give you opportunity to lead staff insets regarding the latest children literature or on how to promote reading for pleasure in the classroom? Is the school ready to acknowledge that you need time to attend professional courses?
  • a commitment to evaluate the Reading for Pleasure policy. A reading for Pleasure policy should be reviewed ideally once every year.

 Brief bibliography of sources that you can quote

Clark, C. & Rumbold, K. (2006) Reading for Pleasure: A Research Overview. London: National Literacy Trust. Retrieved from http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/research/nlt_

research/271_reading_for_pleasure_a_research_overview

Clark, C. (2011). Setting the baseline: The National Literacy Trust’s first annual survey into reading – 2010. London: National Literacy Trust. Retrieved from

http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0001/0336/Omnibus_reading_2010.pdf

Cliff Hodges, G. (2010). Reasons for reading: Why literature matters. Literacy, 44(2),

60-68.

Cremin, Teresa (2007). Revisiting reading for pleasure: Delight, desire and diversity. In: Goouch, Kathy and Lambirth, Andrew eds. Understanding Phonics and the Teaching of Reading: A Critical Perspective. Berkshire, UK: McGraw Hill, pp. 166–190. Retrieved from: http://oro.open.ac.uk/12950/2/

 

** ESARD (2012) Research evidence on reading for pleasure. Retrieved from: http://www.eriding.net/resources/pri_improv/121004_pri_imp_reading_for_pleasure.pdf

 Hairrell, A., Edmonds, M., Vaughn, S., & Simmons, D. (2010). Independent Silent Reading for Struggling Readers: Pitfalls and Potential. In E. H. Hiebert, & D. Reutzel (Eds.), Revisiting Silent Reading (pp. 275-289). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

 National Endowment for the Arts. (2007). To read or not to read: A question of national consequence (Research Report #47). Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.nea.gov/research/ToRead.pdf

 OECD (2002) Reading For Change Performance And Engagement Across Countries – Results From PISA 2000. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/43/54/33690904.pdf

 Sullivan, A. & Brown, M. (2013) Reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom. London: IOE. Retrieved from: http://www.ioe.ac.uk/89938.html

 Twist, L., Schagen, I., & Hodgson, C. (2007). Readers and Reading: The National Report for England 2006 (PIRLS: Progress in International Reading Literacy Study). Slough: NFER. Available online: http://www.nfer.ac.uk/nfer/publications/PRN01/PRN01.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

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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Author visits – get (and give!) the Wow factor.

As part of the London and South East SLG Lib Meet in April 2014 we had an afternoon of discussions based on topics that had been chosen by the delegates on the day. We were lucky enough to have some wonderful authors with us on the day and they took part in the discussion groups.  The discussion was made all the better by their contribution from “other side of the table”! Our thanks go to authors Margaret Bateson-Hill, Sam Osman, Sandra Agard, Alex Wheatle, Annette Smith and James Dawson for making the day such a pleasure.

The key points raised during the discussion about author visits are listed here.

The attending school librarians had fantastic discussions with the authors and together came up with some superb ideas that could help you turn an average author visit, into an inspirational time for all and give your visit the WOW factor!

  • Authors to relate to students the importance of good accurate research and how they accomplish that.
  • Authors to prepare a lesson relating to his work /novels to help facilitate debates/discussions.
  • Author could recommend YA books that think are good for students to read: these could be put on display.
  • Authors to contact the school and suggest ideas of promotion or send in a teasing sample of text from their books.
  • List of books that influenced the author: the author could supply list in advance so that librarian could ensure these are in stock – library could promote them before and /or after visit – could have a pre-prepared handout to give out after the event.
  • Book trailers to be placed on school website.
  • Stories not just in books – promote love of narrative that are in film /cartoons/ etc. to appeal to those who do not read traditional way?
  • Creature writing – read students own work.
  • Item on school webpage / local press/ promotion of school and author.
  • Media students could interview author / make a film as part of visit.
  • Creature writing competition inspired by author books Before visit – winner could be read out or selected by the author.
  • Sale of books signed by author.
  • Bookmarks that list all the published books of the author or those recommended – could be double sided – publisher could produce – getting promotional material from publishers to help librarians promote author events.
  • Prizes – eg. t-shirts.
  • Excerpts from books around the librarian in advance – author could supply particular ones to use as might talk about at event.
  • Promotional material from publisher in advance – could include graphic material.
  • Ask students to ask questions based on the author’s books.
  • Each year group had a book read to them so students could prepare questions.
  • Author to find out about school in advance.
  • Check the audience – focus.
  • Emphasise strengths to Librarian.
  • Website information so that librarian knows all about you in advance.
  • Video clips.
  • Budget restrictions – can you offer more for the money?
  • Advertise well in advance that author is coming.
  • Contact Waterstones to become part of an existing book offer: unit £5 good discount
  • Prize book plates from author.
  • Timing can be difficult , authors should be flexible
  • Liaise with the public libraries.
  • Add creative writing lessons to the mix.
  • Offer Skype creative writing sessions – lower cost availability can be recorded conference option.
  • Ask an author / interview after the visit
  • Answer Twitter questions – less cost etc.
  • Author to write to Headteacher to say they enjoyed visiting the school.
  • Put Children Librarians’ comments on the author’s website.
  • 2 way impact – raising issues for further discussion.
  • Competition based on the both – win a copy.
  • Authors who talk about inspiration – their lives.
  • Sharing life experiences – role models / particularly if they have had a troubled background.
  • People who make the children “Think about the children!”
  • Being a writer is achievable.
  • Impact on reading.
  • Author needs to made the talk different STAND OUT.
  • Author who is not just words on a page.
  • What strange to wonderful things did you need to do to research your book?
  • Creative writing aspect.
  • Make author visit memorable.
  • Less is more – small groups work best.