Tag archives: links

Thursday, 19 May 2016

School libraries are vital for reading and learning – news, guidance, links and quotes

Altrincham Grammar 2It’s ages since I last blogged about school libraries, despite all the training I do about them (the photo shows part of the lovely library at Altrincham Grammar School, where I gave a course for the School Library Association Manchester branch recently), and despite my passion for them. The closure of school libraries and school library services horrifies me. It is so short-sighted and so destructive.

I agree with Gervase Phinn: ‘Reading is the centre of learning and libraries are at the heart of this.’ It’s well worth reading the Yorkshire Post article this comes from, ‘School libraries – the “real” seats of learning’.

Do read this Guardian piece too, ‘School libraries face a bleak future’ on the value of school libraries and librarians. ‘A library is more than the sum of its books; it is a hive of knowledge and a place where the research skills necessary for future study are honed …… A library without a librarian is like a school without a headteacher …… Libraries should be a right in schools …… Opening a library door helps children open their mind. For many, books are too expensive and a library allows students to borrow them.’

‘How libraries brought out my inner book geek’ is a teenager’s take on the powerful impact school libraries can have.

New Zealand school librarian Steph Ellis has lots of good practical ideas for supporting literacy through the school library effectively.

‘I want a good book’ contains useful thoughts on helping students choose a book that is right for them. As the article says, too much choice can be daunting.

Barbara Band’s Library Stuff blog is consistently interesting and pertinent. Her post from last summer on selecting books is full of insight and good ideas.

‘5 fun ways to get teachers into the library’ by the librarian at Glenthorne High School has some great tips for doing just that. I especially like this one: students defend banned books of their choosing, against a backdrop of mug shots of teachers posing with their favourite banned books.

For anyone new to the world of school libraries, there’s lots more help available. If you are lucky enough to work in a local authority that has a schools library service, do make use of their wonderful resources, knowledge and advice. The School Library Association is an invaluable source of guidance. Their publications are excellent. Secondary school librarians will undoubtedly find the new edition of CILIP Guidelines for Secondary School Libraries extremely valuable.

And to end, Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell: ‘School librarians are amazing people who match readers to books that they know they are going to enjoy and that way you actually create readers, and this happens in school libraries every day.’ Absolutely right!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Looked after children – reflections on recent training, the school role and useful links

Educational and other outcomes for looked after children are depressingly poor. While some thrive, all too many are let down by society. Last week I gave two courses on the role of the school and the designated teacher in supporting looked after children and ways to support LAC effectively, and one for carers and residential workers on the school role and how they can help children’s learning at home. All were for NSM, a training organisation I always enjoy working with.

I was immensely impressed with the dedication of everyone on all the courses – their determination to improve the well-being and educational attainment of the children and young people in their care was inspiring. There was a huge amount of good practice shared. One of the issues that came out loud and clear was the vital importance of good two-way communication, both formal and informal between school and carers, and not just at times of crisis. Aspiration was another common cause. Carers and schools must show LAC that they believe in them and have high aspirations for them, and need to put strategies in place to help LAC develop self-esteem and high aspirations for themselves. No two looked after children are the same, and all deserve individualised support. Sadly, there is still a stigma to the LAC label, so great sensitivity is crucial.

Below are some websites and reports I have found particularly useful.

I am very much looking forward to delivering more training on looked after children in the summer term. It’s a topic I feel very passionate about.

All You Need to Know: A Guide to the Education of Looked After Children
Care Leavers’ Foundation
Coram BAAF
Coram Voice
Educational Progress of Looked After Children
Fostering Network
Improving the Attainment of Looked After Children in Primary Schools
Improving the Attainment of Looked After Children in Secondary Schools
Looked After and Learning: Improving the Learning Journey for Looked After Children
Looked After Children
Looked After Children and Adoption
NSPCC Children in Care
Promoting the Education of Looked After Children
Rees Centre
Who Cares Trust
Young Minds

Those interested specifically in issues relating to looked after children’s reading, may also like to see this peer-reviewed article I wrote.