I always enjoy giving training on school libraries, and was delighted to run a course for Dorset Schools Library Service yesterday for primary staff with new responsibility for the library. We had a fabulous mix of schools represented. Despite differences in size and approach, there was a shared concern about insufficient use being made of their libraries, something certainly not unique to Dorset. We discussed libraries’ role in supporting teaching and learning, and fundamentals like budgeting, selecting and buying resources, issue systems and furniture, layout and guiding. The bulk of the day was devoted to exploring ways to make the library a dynamic, relevant and effective part of the school: a place that can change attitudes to reading, and that teachers and pupils all want to use. The debates about appropriate resources were fascinating, and by no means limited to books. We were very lucky that one of the literacy coordinators on the course had previously been SENCO. Her insight into supporting pupils with low reading ability was so valuable. I loved the schemes that emerged for promoting reading in the library. How about a drama area with a puppet theatre? Fantastic. A bedtime reading event with the children in pyjamas sounds lovely, and, as the teacher who organised this suggested, great for modelling good reading practice to parents and carers. We heard about popular reading clubs one participant runs at lunchtimes. Pupils from different year groups enjoy sharing books together. The key to success is giving the children choice about what they read and how they share it. Freedom of choice is crucial for reading enjoyment. And we must teach children how to browse, and give them time for it, so their choices are right for them. I took this delightful picture of browsing in action at Martin Primary School in Barnet.
Thanks to the great delegates and Dorset Schools Library Service for an extremely stimulating day. I’m really looking forward to my course there in February on reading enjoyment at key stages 1 and 2.