Category archives: Uncategorized

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Running a primary school library – sources of information, advice, ideas and support

Oxford Gardens 26People with responsibility for the primary schoool library are often not given the help they need. They may have little knowledge of its role, and how to manage it effectively to support the curriculum and children’s reading and wider learning. Preparing a course on running the primary library today, I realised it might be useful to list sources of information and advice, so the library can be, in Michael Morpurgo’s words, ‘the heart and soul’ of the school.

Schools library services are invaluable for support and resources. I cannot recommend subscription to an SLS highly enough. Here are links to all the SLSs in the UK and a map so you can find your nearest one, helpful now that many local authorities unfortunately no longer provide this crucial service.

The School Library Association, producers of the list and map, is extremely useful. They too provide support, and their publications are excellent, very practical. Making a Start with Your Primary School Library is, as the name suggests, a good starting point, but do check out their other titles too.

There are masses of ideas and information in the Primary School Library Guidelines.

Though not new, Ofsted’s report Good School Libraries: Making a Difference to Learning remains useful.

The School Librarians’ Network is a forum where school library staff can exchange news, views and ideas. The majority of members work in the secondary sector, but there is plenty that is relevant to primary libraries too.

Heart of the School has a secondary library focus, but is well worth a look.

The photo shows an inspiring library lesson at Oxford Gardens Primary School.

 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

New reports on children’s well-being and the impact of school moves

The Children’s Society has published its latest Good Childhood Report. These are the key findings, some depressing:

  • Children in the UK experienced a rise in well-being between 1994 and 2008, but this appears to have stalled and may have begun to reverse.
  • Around 80% of children are ‘flourishing’: they are satisfied with their lives and find them worthwhile.
  • 14 -15 year-olds have lower well-being than younger or older children for most aspects of their lives.
  • Children with low well-being are over 20 times less likely than other children to feel safe at home, eight times more likely to say that their family does not get along well together and five times more likely to report having recently been bullied.
  • Children who lack five or more items on the Society’s deprivation index are 13 times less likely to feel safe at home and six times less likely to feel positive about the future.
  • The amount of harmony, support and parental control within families all have a significant impact on children’s well-being.
  • Children’s levels of well-being can be changed and improved by external factors.

Between the Cracks from the RSA makes sad reading, this time on the impact of school moves on attainment. Only 27% of pupils who move schools three times or more during their secondary school career achieve 5 A* to C GCSE’s (national average of 60%). SATs results for KS2 children dropped 12% following one in year move, 17% for two and 25% for three. Children who move school in-year already face significant disadvantage: 46% are eligible for the pupil premium (national average of 25%) and 29% have a special need.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Youth and Philanthropy Initiative

This morning I was on the judging panel at the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative final at Finchley Catholic High School. What a great event. Six teams of year 12 students gave presentations championing a local charity that mattered to them. We heard impassioned cases made for very important causes. I was so impressed by the talent and creativity we witnessed. There were amazing raps, poems, songs and videos, and very moving testimonials. Picking the winning team was hard. The team here won because of the strength of their commitment to Cancer Link, their very personal and heartfelt story about why the charity matters, and their inspiring video that showed us how the £3000 award would impact directly and positively on people’s lives.

I’ve been a YPI judge for several years. It’s incredibly rewarding. The awards to charities make a huge difference. I admire the scheme too because of its effect on young people who take part. They discover more about their local communities, and the importance of philanthropy. They learn more about themselves. And they gain skills and confidence that will be of lasting benefit to them and others.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

National Shake the Dust Slam Final

What a huge treat it was to attend Saturday’s Shake the Dust Final at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The nine winning teams from regional heats across England competed for the national award. It was the first time I had been to a poetry slam, and I was blown away by the talent on show. Most of the young people who took part were between 13 and 16. Their talents were awe-inspiring. Every performance was brilliant – extraordinarily creative, passionate, clever and thought-provoking. Several were funny as well. Lots were political. The judges’ task must have been horrendous. The photo shows the fabulous team from Ralph Thoresby School in Leeds, who took the overall prize, along with their teachers and the judges.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Youth and Philanthropy Initiative

I’ve been meaning to blog about the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative for ages. It’s a wonderful citizenship scheme operating through schools that gets young people actively engaged with their local communities and with charities.

Students research social needs in their area, working in small teams. Each team identifies a locally based charity that tackles the issue they care about most. They visit it, then prepare a presentation highlighting why they believe it is worthy of support. The team judged to have made the best presentation at a final event in the school is given a cheque of £3000 to award to their charity. The photo is of this year’s winning team at Nightingale Academy with their citizenship teacher.

I have been a YPI judge for several years, and I love it. Watching the presentations is inspiring. Many teams are brilliantly creative. I have seen moving drama, heard amazing poems and music, admired striking use of ICT, and even of clothing. The commitment the students display for the causes they espouse is fantastic. Some teams in the final I was on the judging panel for last week had visited their chosen charities ten times. I often hear about students continuing their involvement in their charities for months or years after the event.

YPI fosters so many skills and aptitudes. Teachers frequently express astonishment about students’ boost in confidence. Quite often the winning team consists of students who have never before excelled in school. Passion is far more important than academic credentials.

It’s great to play a small part in such a valuable scheme.