We have updated our cookie policy to reflect recent changes in the UK/EU law concerning the use of cookies and tracking technologies. We use cookies on this website (including the page you are currently viewing) to ensure that the site functions smoothly and to help us understand how we can improve it. If you continue without changing your settings, you are agreeing to receive all cookies from the SLA website.

or view our cookie policy to find out more

Show Menu | Show Sidebar (Login/Search)

SLA Blog » Recent PostsRSS Feed RSS

The SLA blog contains news about the SLA and topical information of general interest to our members. The blog has been running since 2004. An RSS 2.0 feed and information about how to subscribe to the blog are available.

Older blog posts are still available, though archived, on the website, but please check the date at the top of the post to make sure the offer or information is likely to be valid.

CE Blog 2019_8: Storm on the horizon?


This month's CE blog is a little late - apologies - but offers some tips and guidance for what to do if you're concerned about the future of your library. 

Is there a storm on the horizon?

I know many will be wishing for a quiet and peaceful August (despite the weather), and it’s not that I’m trying to ruin this, but September tends to be a demanding month, so I wanted to put this out there for people to ruminate on.

I think there may be a storm on the horizon – there are more than a few signs that are indicating that things may be about to get increasingly difficult for those of us in the school library sector.

School finances have been hit multiple times with a pensions increase, an unfunded pay rise for teachers and increased uncertainty as a new Education Secretary joins the cabinet. These are all going to lead to changes and increased insecurity all round – and when added to a certain amount of anxiety about the new Ofsted Framework times in schools are not looking smooth.

I really feel for those Heads and Governors who are in tricky situations – yet another round of incredibly tough decisions may have to be made, and some school library staff will feel insecure in their roles.  Logically, we will know these decisions are not being made lightly; in some schools there is little to go around – and in others preventative decisions may be being looked at. Even in schools where the school library staff feel secure change can happen very quickly, so it helps to always be aware of these issues.

So, if things are difficult, how do you protect your library?

  1. 1. Annual report – I can’t overstate how important this is. I know that school libraries have benefitted in some ways from not being part of the ‘accountability driven’ part of education. However, if you’re not accountable, in some ways you’re not responsible either, and that undermines school libraries and their staff. In our current education system for the majority of school libraries if you’re not accountable you’re not being seen. What we do from day to day is so varied – equal parts science and magic – that we should expect to have to explain it for those who are not part of it every day to understand the impact. Heads, governors and HR are not a part of it, and they are the ones we need to have understand the role. An annual report is a chance to reflect on what you’ve done, why you did it and what you accomplished. Here’s my top tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to say you tried something and it didn’t work – just explain what you learnt, and what you’d do differently.

  • Make sure it relates to the school development plan/Ofsted aims/current objectives of the school.

  • Place a few questions throughout you can pick up in your next meeting with your line manager/chat with the head or governor

  1. 2. Weed – this may seem illogical: money is tight = get rid of books, but first impressions are absolutely essential, and if your school is in a situation with a high staff turnover you need to be able to make an instant impression – and having books from the 70s is not going to win them over. The fewer new books you buy, the more you need them to stand out, and pupils are more likely to borrow if they can see books they want – display is essential. Here’s my top weeding tips:

  • Don’t feel like it has to be a huge job – do a section at a time each half term on a rolling basis. Pupils and staff will get used to it! (If you do have funds or think this is important but don’t have the time you can ask for funds to do this – there are some great companies out there who’ll do it for you).

  • Ask a critical friend to come and have a look – sometimes it’s hard to see it from a fresh perspective when we’re in it every day. This can mean we accumulate and make excuses; so distance can be useful.

  • Don’t just focus on the topics that are more likely to need weeding (science and computers) – the humanities need some attention too; context is everything. Pay attention to the careers section too!

  • If you have rare/donations/useful books you can’t/don’t want to get rid of consider a separate section or an archives section – this will increase usability for pupils, and show that you’re aware there’s a different purpose for these.

  1. 3. Welcome new teachers – even if you can’t do welcome bags for everyone (a great Lucas Maxwell idea) do something to show new teachers you are there to help.

  • A resources list for their next topic

  • A list of the best book and digital reviews from The School Librarian

  • Offer them training on the LMS/other school technology/programmes. You’re a font of knowledge – share it!

  1. 4. Prepare for Ofsted/ISI – if you know your time is coming keep a running report of the main sections of the Ofsted/ISI reports and send it to your line manager/Head/ Chair of Governors (or even better your link Governor) and the main people you work with. Our work is so broad even the teachers we work with most closely will only have a snapshot. When that call comes, the inspectors should not have to come to the library to see or hear about what you’ve been doing – make sure the people they are going to talk to are informed enough to advocate for you.

  • Talking points – do them every half term and send them to all the relevant people

  • Attend one of the SLA training days: ‘Preparing for Inspection’ – it’s newly updated and will help you get ahead of the game.

  1. 5. Ask your SLT what the school’s main foci are for the year ahead and see how you can help. Sometimes a small tweak is all it takes, sometimes you may want to try something bigger, but make sure the effort and results are measured. You need to be able to show the intent and impact.

  • If you’re running a book group change the target audience (from PP to EAL for example) and make sure it’s accessible for the new audience.

  • If literacy is a focus use your LMS to measure the average reading age of the books being borrowed – this needn’t be all the time, but a snapshot over a few weeks can give a picture. Over the course of the year this can help show progress.

  • Reach out to local newspapers with events and good news – they can be really great advocates for both you and the school. Write a press release that isn’t more than a page long – and send photos if you can.


If the situation does occur and conversations start to happen, don’t take it personally. Find out the situation of the school, and work as a team where you can – this may mean changing your ‘red lines’. Try and be open and positive – things are more likely to be hidden where a negative reaction is expected, and if a negative reaction is needed make sure it’s backed up with evidence and impact, not just emotion.

 If you would like some support call the SLA or your local SLS as soon as possible – we can’t get involved in HR disputes (only a union can; and they can only help when it's a new dispute- which is why everyone should be a member of a union), but where the conversation is about use of space, or future developments we can help.

In response to times like this it can be tempting to batten down the hatches but we need to be more open. It can be easy to become more tribal and for the atmosphere to become more divisive, but we need to be more accepting, more encouraging and more open about both our successes and our struggles. We are one team, with teachers and all support staff, and it can be difficult to remember this when we feel like what we do isn’t understood, which is why doing the reports and getting out of the library is so important. And if you need any support, to vent or find a constructive path forwards do get in touch – we are here to help.

Further reading:



0 comments · Add a comment

Job Vacancies, Ilford County High School: Learning Resource Centre Manager

Learning Resource Centre Manager
Ilford County High School, Barkingside

Temporary for 1 year – term time only
40 hours per week

Grade VR4 - £23,826 (pro rata)   
Closing Date: Friday 30th August 2019
Interview date: Thursday 19th September 2019

To apply for the position please send a copy of your CV, with a covering letter outlining your relevant experience for this role to e-mail visionrecruitment[at]visionrcl.org.uk

This is an exciting opportunity to be part of an innovative partnership between Vision and Ilford County High School.  We are looking for an experienced School Librarian who can manage, develop and promote the Learning Resource Centre at Ilford County High School.

You will be proactive, imaginative, self-motivated and be able to work both independently and as part of the whole school team.  An ability to enthuse and inspire students as to the value of reading and the importance of good information skills is essential, as is an ability to work under pressure and remain calm in difficult situations. 

You will enjoy and have experience of working with young people and teachers. The initial contract will be for 1 academic year with the possibility of it becoming permanent. 

Vision - Redbridge Culture & Leisure provides a wide range of culture and leisure services on behalf of the London Borough of Redbridge. It aims to increase participation, accessibility and inclusivity across its services, developing partnerships and sharing best practice throughout facilities.

For further information or to request the job description and person specification for this role, please e-mail visionrecruitment[at]visionrcl.org.uk

ICHS Job Descr

Word document, 20 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 2007 or later)


ICHS Person Spec

Word document, 16 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 2007 or later)

More Details...

0 comments · Add a comment

Into Film Festival sign up

The Into Film Festival returns between 6-22 November 2019. Three weeks of engaging film screenings, workshops and special events across the UK and it's all completely FREE!

The Festival offers easy-to-organise school trips to the cinema, with a specially curated programme supporting a multitude of curriculum subjects with educational resources ensuring continued learning back in the classroom.

Sign up for Into Film Festival updates here




0 comments · Add a comment

Empathy CPD training day

Empathy CPD training day, 19 November 2019, 10.00am-4.30pm,

at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, Webber Street, London, SE1 8QW

A whole school approach using stories to integrate empathy education into existing school priorities

Led by Miranda McKearney OBE, founder of EmpathyLab and The Reading Agency

Aim: to lay the foundations for schools’ empathy strategies and work towards a major celebration of Empathy Day in June. 

Tom Percial Read for Empathy (002)

Young people are growing up in a society with a major empathy deficit; hate crimes are at their highest level since records began and there are increasing concerns about the negative effects of social media. Increased empathy is good for society and vital for young people’s life chances. Psychologists highlight its central place in the bank of social and emotional skills young people need – without strong empathy skills, they will struggle to form the strong relationships they need to learn and thrive.

Come to a first-step training day with EmpathyLab – we aim to build young people’s empathy, literacy and social activism through a more systematic use of high-quality literature. Our strategy builds on scientific evidence showing the power of reading to build real-life empathy skills.

Discounts for SLA members.

November 19 training day

PDF file, 533 kB (Requires Adobe Reader)


0 comments · Add a comment

Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in School Libraries: Wallsend, Tyne & Wear, 6 November 2019

Our course Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in School Libraries, run by Barbara Band, will be held at Wallsend Customer First Centre, 16 The Forum, Wallsend, Tyne and Wear NE28 8JR on 6 November 2019. The closing date is 22 October 2019. Bookings received by 26 September 2019 are eligible for a £15.00 discount.  Payment is not needed to qualify for the discount as long as an official order has been received.

Key Audience:

Secondary school library staff

More Details...

0 comments · Add a comment

Job Vacancies, Wrenn School: Resource Centre Manager , Wrenn School


Wrenn School
Resource Centre Manager 

Part time- 3 days a week (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday)  

Permanent Post 

22.5 hours per week (8.00am – 4.00pm each day) 

38 weeks per year (term time only)

Start date – ASAP  

Actual Salary: Grade 7 Points 23- 25 (Actual £13,742.19 - £14,651.24 per annum)

Grading and Salary will be based in accordance with our Pay Policy, linked to Performance

We are looking to appoint for a new member of staff to join our expanding English team and share the running of our Learning Resource Centre. The successful applicant will be working across both sites (London and Doddington Road).

Wrenn School was awarded SCHOOL OF THE YEAR 2018 (Northampton Education Awards) and has the ambition, the expertise and the determination to ensure that our outcomes will continue to improve beyond our current P8 score of +0.19. To do this, it is vital that we attract the right calibre of professional to work alongside our dedicated team of staff. We are looking for a colleague who shares the clear vision that the child is at the heart of everything we do, who can enjoy positive, professional relationships with young people and who demonstrates high levels of resilience and emotional intelligence.

Your career and development as a member of staff is important to us and every member of staff receives an Individual Professional Development Programme. We empower staff to take ownership of their career progression and we invest significantly in training, outreach work and research projects linked to the needs of our students and the school.

The successful candidate will be joining our family at an exciting time where we aim to be recognised as a top 10% school in the UK by 2021.  We believe that every student is entitled to an outstanding education where they have excellent opportunities to achieve beyond their potential. We have a traditional ethos called 'Proud to be Wrenn' underpinning our School and strive to develop the aspirations and values of every student and member of staff.

Situated on the outskirts of the town of Wellingborough, Wrenn is a popular School with dynamic, inspirational and caring staff.  Expectations are high, Wrenn demands high standards and aspirations from students and staff alike, with an excellent programme of CPD support that will support and develop your career at Wrenn.

For an application pack or to arrange a visit to our School, please contact Miss A Pomroy, 01933 222039 or alice.wright[at]wrennschool.org.uk or download the documents below or visit our website  www.wrennschool.org.uk

Closing date: Monday 2nd September 2019

Interview date: Week commencing 9th September 2019   

We are an equal opportunities employer.  The organisation is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, we expect all staff to share this commitment.   An enhanced DBS check, together with references from previous employers will be requested for short-listed applicants prior to interview.

Wrenn LRC Manager - Recruitment Information Pack

Word document, 2 MB (Requires Microsoft Word 2007 or later)


Wrenn Application form support staff excluding TAs

Word document, 111 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 2007 or later)


Wrenn Equality and diversity monitoring form staff

Word document, 84 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 2007 or later)

More Details...

0 comments · Add a comment

Apollo Moon landing book giveaway


Harbour Moon Publishing

PDF file, 207 kB (Requires Adobe Reader)

Where Once We Stood Jacket Lowres (1)Win 1 of 3 copies of WHERE ONCE WE STOOD: Stories of the Apollo Astronauts Who Walked on the Moon

This year sees the 50th anniversary of the first humans landing on the Moon. To mark this historic occasion, BAFTA and EMMY nominated film maker and expert on the Apollo missions, Christopher Riley, and multi-award winning artist Martin Impey, whose paintings of Moonwalks have been celebrated by the astronauts themselves, have created a book which offers a rare insight into what it really felt like to live and work on another world.

From the first footprints left by Neil and Buzz during their pioneering walk on the Sea of Tranquility, to the final ambitious expeditions – as astronauts drove electric cars deep into the mountains of the Moon, this is a revealing record of what it truly meant to explore a place beyond Earth. WHERE WE ONCE STOOD is a book that can be enjoyed by the whole family.


We have 3 copies of WHERE ONCE WE STOOD to give away to SLA members. For your chance to win one just email your name and full address to laurasmythecontact[at]gmail.com using the subject line School Librarian WOWS COMP. The winners will be chosen at random after the closing date of 31st July.



0 comments · Add a comment

Hachette Publishers Supporting Book Clubs

Hachette Education publisher is offering goodie bags to book clubs to accompany Lucy Powrie’s brand new teen series The Paper and Hearts Society. To celebrate the launch of the first book in the series, Hachette will sponsor as many book clubs – existing or new – as possible, by providing a set of items including:

·       A club notebook

·       A club poster

·       Feedback sheets

·       Peelable stickers for notebooks, laptops or phones

·       Bookmarks

·       A recommended reading list from Lucy Powrie

More details here



0 comments · Add a comment