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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.

Excelsior Award Shortlists announced

The Excelsior Award - the nationwide book award for graphic novels and manga has announced the shortlists for 2019 with four separate categories for ages 9 -18, Why not get reading and join in, the awards are great at encouraging your students to explore new graphic novels and they are now Key Stage ranged. 

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There’s a Yeti in the Playground: mini winter challenge

Just incase the story starters from Tommy Donbavand aren't enough to keep pupils and young ones busy over the festive period (see blog post on on 12th Dec titled 'End of Term') don't forget The Reading Agency run a mini Winter Challenge - this year the focus book is "There’s a Yeti in the Playground". To get involved have a look at their website and while you're there you can make use of the Book Sorter to come up with suggestions of new reading material. 

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Welcome to the SLA Website: Christmas closure

The SLA office will close at 4pm on Thursday 20th December and will not open again until 8am Wednesday 2nd January. During this time emails and phone messages will not be monitored. We hope you all have a lovely festive period, whatever your plans. 

More Details...

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Development and Discussion: Why do children need great school libraries?

Why do children need great school libraries?

In this Development and Discussion blog the National Literacy Trust’s Head of Research Christina Clark explains how the charity’s latest research demonstrates the value of school libraries on children’s lives.

It is an undisputed fact that school libraries play a crucial role in supporting children and young people to acquire the skills they need and deserve for the future. Indeed, previous research has highlighted the importance of school libraries, not just for children and young people’s reading and writing skills, but also for their general academic attainment, wider learning skills, their motivation and attitudes towards reading, and other personal and interpersonal outcomes, such as self-esteem and feelings of success.

While school libraries are clearly important for the reasons outlined above and more, there is a lack of data on school libraries in the UK, which means that nobody has a clear idea of the state of provision, potentially contributing to educational inequality. In 2018, the Great School Libraries campaign was launched with the aim to bring school libraries and librarians to every school in the UK and to gather data on the quality and quantity of school libraries that already exist.

A benchmarking survey will be conducted across the UK in early 2019, which will tell us how many schools have a school library, in its many guises, and much more. However, that survey will not provide information on the pupils' experience and use of school libraries, which is why we thought that it might be interesting to see what children and young people who participated in our latest annual literacy survey that we conducted in November 2017 and January 2018 had to say about school libraries.

So, how many children and young people say that they use the school library? Of the 45,523 children and young people who answered our questions on school library use, nearly 2 in 3 (63.2%) told us that they use their school library, while nearly 1 in 3 (32.9%) told us they don’t. 3.9% of children and young people we surveyed told us that they don’t have a school library.

Overall, school library use decreased slightly over the last couple of years, with 67.1% of children and young people in 2016 telling us that they used the school library.

Our data tells us how many pupils use the school library - and also who is more likely to use it. For example, more girls than boys say that they use their school library (68.5% vs. 63.5%). Similarly, more pupils who receive free school meals, our proxy of socioeconomic background, use their school library compared with their more advantaged peers (69.1% vs. 64.7%).

However, the biggest difference in school library use is seen across age groups, where over twice as many pupils aged 8 to 11 as those aged 14 to 16 say that they use their school library (81.9% vs. 37.3%).  We also found geographical variation in school library use with those from the  North West of England (52.4%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (57.6%) being least likely to use the school library and those from Greater London (75.2%), the West Midlands (72.2%) and the South West (71.5%) being most likely to use the library.

Why do children and young people use, or don’t use, their school library? Read the full blog post below to find out. 

DandD_School libraries 2018 blog

PDF file, 288 kB

Requires Adobe Reader

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Owning books boosts children’s literacy and mental wellbeing

The National Literacy Trust has released new research which shows that the more books a child owns, the more likely they are to do well at school and be happy with their lives.

To get books into the hands of the children who need them the most this Christmas, the charity has launched a festive book giveaway to give parents the chance to win one of 20 different titles for their child: wordsforlife.org.uk/festive-fun/winter-book-giveaway.

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End of term

It's headed towards (and has already arrived for some!) the end of term, but here's a few reminders: 

  • End of term (or at home with children) activity: The wonderful Tommy Donbavand has created some story starters with a Christmas theme, so whether you're at school or at home, this is a great opportunity to get those creative brains working! And don't forget you can keep up to date with all Tommy's latest writings by visiting his website: http://www.tommydonbavand.com/


PDF file, 2 MB (Requires Adobe Reader)



  • Library Display competition - this quarter runs until 31st December, so we'll choose winners in January. All displays about reading, festivities and anything else are welcome! You can win a £50 gift voucher so it's worth taking a snap and emailing it to info@sla.org.uk with the subject line 'School Library Display Competition'
  • Free training place - don't forget to enter for the training place sponsored by PSP Asset Protection. The deadline has been extended; you can find more information in the latest edition of Info@ - the newsletter that comes with The School Librarian. 

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Survey to shape how libraries work with young people

A quick reminder that if you have young people wandering into your school libraries looking for a respite from revising for mocks, please could you encourage them to complete a survey on helping to shape the way in which libraries work with young people.

The survey is for young people (13-24 years) to find out their views on how they think libraries (school or public) should work with young people.

Please do share.
The deadline for responses is 2nd Jan 2019.

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Nominations for 2019 Board

The SLA Board is looking for members with enthusiasm and commitment to stand for election to two vacant positions on the SLA Board for the three-year term beginning at the 2019 AGM in June 2019.

We are particularly looking for someone who may be interested in becoming Treasurer in time, and for those who feel under represented. Should we receive more applications than there are places available the members of the SLA will vote.

The Board is responsible for the strategic planning and decision-making which take the Association forward. Being elected by your peers to serve on the Board carries lots of benefits and most headteachers recognise the enhancement of your professional status that this brings. Being on the Board means you will legally be a Director of the SLA. Here is more information:



If you, or someone you know, would like to stand for election, please use this document


Word document, 94 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 97 or later)


Information about the Role and Responsibilities of Board Members is available here

All nominations must be received at the SLA office by 1 February 2019.

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