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SLA Blog » January 2011RSS 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.

Save our Libraries Day - Saturday 5 February

Support Save our Libraries Day! All users and new users are encouraged to visit their local library on Saturday 5 February, whether it is under threat of closure or not.

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The New Education Bill

The new Education Bill was published on Thursday 27th February. Some of the key measures proposed in the new Education Bill are:

  • the extension of the Secretary of State's powers to intervene where schools are underperforming
  • the introduction of smarter school inspections. Ofsted will now focus only on four core elements of schools - pupil achievement, teaching, leadership and behaviour and safety
  • measuring our education system against the best in the world. Ofqual will compare our exam standards against the highest performing countries
  • strengthening teachers' powers to deal with bad behaviour: giving teachers the power to search for any items schools ban that disrupt learning, like mobile phones and video cameras. It also gives schools the final say in expelling violent pupils and protects teachers from pupils making false allegations
  • the dissolution of the General Teaching Council for England and the Qualification and Curriculum Development Agency. It will also abolish the School Support Staff Negotiating Body and the Training and Development Agency for Schools
  • it also seeks to cut down bureaucratic requirements placed on schools.

The Bill will receive its Second Reading in the House of Commons on February 8th and it may be many months before it is implemented so keep an eye out for news of any changes!

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Public Library Cuts

The last few days have seen a number of items in the press about libraries, school library services and school libraries – here is a short round up of things you may have missed; Philip Pullman’s impassioned talk in Oxford, CILIP CEO Annie Mauger’s blog,   New Statesman article, Independent article, and a Guardian article. 

Plus Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) are looking for help from across the globe with a day of action in support of UK public library services. The day is called Save Our Libraries and it takes place on the 5th Feb.  Internationally we are hoping for a global day of tweeting using the hashtag #savelibraries in support of UK public library services.  Can you please encourage your colleagues to tweet using #savelibraries about why public libraries are so important on the 5th Feb and get global awareness?  For further information look at the press release

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Board Nominations

Don’t forget SLA Board nominations close on 1st February – become a Board member and help to make a difference.

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This week...

You know how some week’s work like clockwork, others are more mixed – or as they say in my part of the world ‘middling’…  Well it’s been a middling week – lots of real positives but with some arrangements that just didn’t work, or didn’t happen for reasons beyond anyone’s control!

The Cambridge Primary Review Network meeting at the beginning of the week was a fascinating opportunity to meet with other subject associations that have views on the new curricula and to be able to exchange thoughts on the breadth of the curriculum was a real positive.  This was particularly well timed as the Call for Evidence for the Curriculum review was announced by the DfE this week.We are already working on our submission!

Meeting publishers to finalise the line up for the Weekend Course is always a positive – and we have a super programme in development (some of which is already flagged up on the website) waiting to land on your desks very shortly. 

The imminent call for entries to the Information Book Award is very exciting – the anticipation of wondering what will be nominated and how many books will arrive.  Plus creating criteria for the judging and working with a series of partners, and new webpages are always an opportunity. 

Even the time spent on trains travelling to meetings is an enforced period of catch up on the professional reading pile that always seems to lurk in my briefcase or on the office shelves!

The messages from schools, school library services and public libraries are often depressing – threats of closure, staff being dismissed and expertise being lost.  Re-inventing what we have lost (thrown away?) in the future will be more costly than maintaining a reduced service or of re-aligning some services for the present.  We are working to support as many of you as we can through advocacy and our advice and support – contact us!

Tricia Adams

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The Foundation Years – the Frank Field Report

The Foundation Years preventing poor children becoming poor adults (published December 2010) and written by Frank Field MP, on behalf of the Coalition Government reveals the importance of the home learning environment -in particular being read to - for very young children. The importance of visits to the public library are also used as one of the indicators of a good home learning environment. The effective use of school libraries with the active promotion of stories and reading skills is essential to breaking the cycle of poor children becoming poor adults.


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Good advice for raising literacy levels!

Removing Barriers to Literacy is an Ofsted report  looking at the barriers to good literacy.  It says that poor development of speaking and listening skills at an early age is a barrier for children learning to read and write. The report  highlights the need for teachers to have high expectations, the importance of the systematic teaching of phonics, and how the clear assessment of individual pupils' progress and needs can drive improvement. 

Following on from this there is also an article in the Times Educational Supplement about whether book gifting is a good way to boost literacy.

The National Literacy Trust highlights a  study undertaken by the University of Stavanger in Norway which reports that children and students who write by hand learn better than those who type.  

In our final source, the National Literacy Trust reports on work by the  University of Coventry which reveals that text messaging can boost literacy among pupils because it provides additional exposure to words and writing outside of the school day.

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BBC Year of Books 2011

The BBC has recently announced its schedule for the Year of Books 2011 - an exciting celebration of the written word with a whole range of activities and programmes. Anne Robinson (of Weakest Link Fame) is to have a new book programme and one of our patrons, Michael Murporgo, has agreed to deliver the highly acclaimed Richard Dimbleby Lecture later in the year.

In addition, 2011 will also be the 400th anniversary of the Authorised Version of the Bible (the King James Bible) and the BBC as well as other TV stations will be bound to feature this important event.

There is much potential for school library activities, speakers, displays and curriculum links in these two important events!

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What do you all do at the SLA?

Curious about what goes on here at SLA HQ? A short information sheet entitled What your Association has done in the past year... is now available for download as a pdf from the SLA website. We hope that this will illuminate some of the many activities that we get up to in a busy year running a thriving membership association and charity.

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How are you feeling today?

Today (24 January) is "Gloomsday" - so tells us the entry in a wonderful book about the weather The Wrong Kind of Snow The Complete Companion to the British Weather - by Anthony Woodward and Robert Penn. Apparently the term was coined by a Cardiff University psychologist, Cliff Arnall, who suggested that with Christmas and New Year memories fading but not the debts incurred, dark days and nights still with us, colds and flu germs in abundance and Spring still some time away this was time to think ahead about summer holidays!

If you and your school library users feel a bit down and gloomy then how about:

  • giving a bit of time to a library display on the theme of summer, warmth and light?
  • creating a display of some cheerful predications about the next 11 months and encourage your students to contribute or respond
  •  giving your 'gloomy' users a bright and cheerful book quiz

Whatever you decide to do.....keep smiling !

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Review of National Curriculum Call for Evidence

Following on from the announcement of the review of the National Curriculum last week, here is our first real opportunity as the school library world to give our opinion. Let's make it count!

The DfE is inviting our views

"We want to hear your opinions and evidence about the National Curriculum and start a debate about what is taught in our schools. By answering the questions in the Call for Evidence you can give your input to the discussion at this early stage."

Do have a look at the questionnaire and give some opinions about the  importance of school libraries in raising attainment, the power of reading and the way that information literacy underpins all curriculum work.  If 4,000+ school library staff across England complete the questionnaire and make comment it will surely make a difference!    

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Days at the SLA are nothing if not varied…  Today I have sent letters to the Welsh Assembly supporting the petition for statutory school libraries and librarians in Wales, as well as sent a letter of protest to East Ayrshire Council over their plans to replace qualified librarians with library assistants on shorter hours.  The research and advocacy that sits behind both of these letters is very similar but the interpretation of it for protest or support is interesting.

As an association, with specific charitable purposes to support school libraries and librarians we sit in a quite difficult position.  We can advocate, advise, guide and support, plus train all those who work in school libraries and, by extension, schools.  We can forcefully advocate to government, to headteachers and senior managers, and other influential people and we can make sure all our efforts go towards supporting all our members in whatever their circumstances – but we are not in a position to intervene in individual cases.  An often frustrating situation to be in, but - keep an eye on our website – we are trying to make sure that whatever situation you find yourself in we will have some advice and help; hence our recent addition of the advice and guidance page on contractual changes and redundancy.  Don’t hesitate to contact us – we may not be able to help directly but we often know someone who can….

Tricia Adams

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National Curriculum Review announced today!

Today (20 January 2011) Michael Gove has announced the forthcoming review of the National Curriculum and the way in which this will take place. Do have a look at the DfE website for details:

This includes useful information about the members of the Expert Review Panel and their remit, the Advisory Panel members and the timetable for the review. We wonder if any of the advisory panel members lead schools that have excellent libraries?

The Department wants to hear from as many people as possible as part of the review. A Call for Evidence will be launched later today.

Do keep an eye on developments and it might be an idea to post some information for your teaching colleagues.

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Surviving the Comprehensive Spending Cuts

Are you facing unexpected changes to your contract or terms and conditions of employment?  Could you be facing a cut in your working hours or even the prospect of being made redundant? While the SLA is not able to act in the way a union can and we are not experts on HR procedures and employment law, we are here to help, advise and support our members as best we can. With that in mind, we have put together a useful list of places where you can get advice and information - find it in the Advice and Support section

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Getting the most out of Wikipedia

Abc Goudy GraphicGiven the extra attention surrounding Wikipedia in its 10th Anniversary, the SLA has now put online an advisory note entitled Getting the most out of Wikipedia.

It introduces the concerns of accuracy and reliability, coupled with issues about the reliance on it for school work by the ‘copy and paste generation’, and then offers guidance on using Wikipedia responsibly.

Available as a pdf download to SLA members only, it is an updated version of the article from the ict[at]sla section of The School Librarian (Vol. 57 No. 2, Summer 2009, p.84).

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Happy Birthday Wikipedia!

Many congratulations to Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) as Wikipedia reaches its 10th birthday at the end of last week. With 17 million articles (or 9.25 million - depending on which source you read!); 3.5 of them in English and around 400 million users it has clearly been a phenomenal success and an important 'first port of call' reference tool for school libraries and pupil researchers.

In case you haven't noticed, we have our own entry - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_Library_Association. Do check the entries for our patrons, Michael Morpurgo and Aidan Chambers, as well. School libraries themselves feature as do important areas of our work such as information literacy and plagiarism. We all know the skill isn't in finding information, it's in the using of it in a responsible manner - a prime reason for the importance of school librarians!

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Information Book Award launched!!

The School Library Association is launching the Information Book Award for non-fiction, sponsored by Hachette Children's Books. The annual award is designed to support school libraries and to reinforce the importance of non-fiction.

Publishers will be called for submissions in early February and the shortlist will be announced in July/August. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London in November.

The award will be split into three categories: under 7s, 7-12 and 12-16 years, and will be judged by librarians, SLA Board members and a member of Peters Bookselling Services. Each section will have a winner and there will also be an overall winner.

Peters Bookselling Services will supply packs of the shortlisted titles to schools, with children invited to vote for their favourite book in September and October 2011.

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Global Online Science Fair

There is an online global science fair, which is being sponsored by Google, in partnership with CERN, LEGO, National Geographic and Scientific American. 

The competition is open to children around the world ages 13-18  - there are some wonderful prizes.  Submissions have to be sent in before April 4, 2011. For more information, visit the official web site here .  This may be a useful resource to talk to your Science department.

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Holocaust Memorial Day

HMD takes place on 27 January each year to honour and remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and the ongoing atrocities in Darfur.  HMD gives us all a chance to look to our own lives and communities today. By learning from the lessons of the past, we can create a safer, better future.

Free Campaign Packs, including posters for displays, a free film and further information regarding HMD can be ordered from the website.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss ways your school could get involved with HMD 2011, please contact the HMDT team by calling 0845 838 1883 or emailing enquiries@hmd.org.uk.


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Online Poetry Book Group Launched

The Poetry Book Society is delighted to announce that it has today launched a major new initiative, an online poetry-reading group, which will be open to everyone.  Using its new Poetry Bookshop Online , the reading group will be free to join and is aimed at a wide audience of poetry readers.  This new venture will enable the organisation to attract a whole new audience of poetry lovers to its new website.

Each month, The Online Poetry Reading Group will offer two Choices - these will be contrasting books, ranging across time and format to include a varied and more mainstream selection of poetry anthologies, single author collections and classics. Reading group members can enrol online and will be sent a monthly email announcing the new Choices. From this members can easily access the specially commissioned articles about the books.  The first two Choices will be Ruth Padel’s article on The Forward Book of Poetry 2011 and Gwyneth Lewis’s article on Seamus Heaney’s Human Chain. Reading Group members will be able to order the books (and any other books on the site) at a discount of 20% for seven days. The books will arrive in time for them to read them and join in the online discussion, which will start the following month.

The new Poetry Book Society website offers a haven for PBS members and it’s where you’ll find a new free PBS membership for students, the T S Eliot Prize with its Shadowing Scheme and new reading groups scheme and the Old Possum’s Children’s Poetry Competition. The PBS is also the only poetry book club in the world and its new site will enable it to develop its proud tradition of offering the best new poetry chosen by its Poet Selectors, nearly 60 years after it was founded by T S Eliot and friends to ‘propagate the art of poetry’.

For further information please contact: Chris Holifield or David Isaac at the Poetry Book Society tel 020 7833 9247 email chris@poetrybooks.co.uk or david_isaac@poetrybooks.co.uk

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Up for Reading

Up for Reading is a sponsored reading initiative endorsed by a large number of top children's authors and illustrators, including our patron Michael Morpurgo.    Up for Reading raises 100% of funds to go directly to support the work of DownsEd , a non-profit charity.  Up for Reading provides a focus for reading, encourages children to read for pleasure, and raises awareness about children with disabilities. Participating schools and families qualify for massive discounts on book orders with selected publishers, and have the opportunity to win some fantastic prizes.

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Guerilla Bookmarking for the University of Oxford!

This year the University of Oxford will award UNIQ summer school places to 650 students currently studying at UK state schools. We want the brightest and most academically enthusiatic students to apply - basically, we're looking for bookworms! The summer schools are free and introduce students to university life and study, and students can apply between 10th January and 24th February, using the online application system at www.ox.ac.uk/uniq

For 2011, we're implementing a 'guerilla bookmarking' campaign to advertise the opportunity to students, and if you work in the school library of a UK state school, we'd be really grateful for your help!

To get involved, simply visit the website www.ox.ac.uk/uniq download and print of a few of the bookmarks and place them in your library where students can pick them up - or alternatively, why not hide some in well-loved books so avid readers can discover the opportunity for themselves?

If you'd like us to send you some ready-made bookmarks and posters to put up in your libarary, please drop us an email at uniq@admin.ox.ac.uk and we'll get some sent out to you. To find out more, please email uniq@admin.ox.ac.uk or visit our website at www.ox.ac.uk/uniq

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School Librarian of the Year 2009 in the TES

Do have a look at the article in TES about Lucy Bakewell.  This could be you in future years - so don't forget to send in your entries for the 2011 School Librarian of the Year - entries close on 14th January so not much time left!  Details and application forms are here.

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New Year Resolutions!

Happy New Year wishes to all school library and school library service staff everywhere, especially to our members. 2011 may well prove to be a challenging year for school libraries so let's make sure that we celebrate all our successes and hard work. Many of us quite regularly make and perhaps break New Year resolutions, but to quote Oprah Winfrey - "New Year and another chance for us to get it right".

Here are six possible New Year school library resolutions to consider: 
1). Keep a regular eye on the DfE, OFSTED and exam board websites to keep up to date with the changing educational scene - especially planning changes to the curriculum and exams and keep colleagues in school informed. Take a regular look too at the TES.  
2). Gather evidence of your vital contribution to learning and raising attainment across the school and tell your senior leadership teams. They need to understand your important role and achievement  
3). Make sure that you and your library are visible, not only to colleagues and students across the school but also to parents and carers. Have a look at the communications that you have with this group - digital, newsletters, school prospectus, Open Evenings etc  
4). Make sure that every penny counts with your budget. Think creatively. Justify your spending. We all know that cuts are likely for some or many this year.  
5). If there's an opportunity to comment on planned or possible changes - educational, fiscal etc that impinge on school libraries then make your views heard loud and clear.  
6). Take a regular look at the SLA website to see what we are doing to support you and your vital work over the coming year.
Please tell us of your successes.  
Have a good year and best wishes from all at the SLA.

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Bookstart U-turn

The new statement from Bookstart and DfE reads...

Funding update 27 December 2010‪

Joint statement from Department for Education and Booktrust -

'The Department for Education and Booktrust are determined to ensure that reading for pleasure is a gift every child can enjoy. That is why the DFE will continue to fund Booktrust book-gifting programmes in the future. Although the current contract will end in April the Department are talking to Booktrust about how to develop a new programme which will ensure that every child can enjoy the gift of books at crucial moments in their lives while ensuring we develop an even more effective way of supporting the most disadvantaged families to read together. The Department and Booktrust will be working together, with publishers, in order to ensure that we can make every possible saving in developing an enhanced programme.'

We will await further developments, but thank goodness this has been rescued.

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Kids Lit Quiz Founder Honoured

Wayne Mills has been awarded the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's New Year Honours list 2011.

The New Zealand Order of Merit, established in 1996, is awarded to those "who in any field of endeavour have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and the nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions, or other merits".    

Wayne Mills is a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland in the Faculty of Education. In March 2008 he was awarded the Margaret Mahy Medal in New Zealand for his substantial and distinguished contribution to both national and international literature and literacy. Wayne launched the Kids Lit Quiz in New Zealand in 1991, concerned that his children's school prize giving never included awards for keen readers. He wanted to make children who love books as highly valued as school sports stars in his sports-mad country, with national TV coverage, trophies and trips to compete in exciting venues to spur them on.

The Kids' Lit Quiz is an annual literature competition for children aged 10 to 13. It puts readers onto the stage and lets them compete for fantastic prizes. The quiz has heats in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada and China; winning teams qualify for national and world finals. The Kids' Lit Quiz is not for profit and run entirely by volunteers.

Jacky Atkinson, UK National Co-ordinator of the Kids Lit Quiz said: " We are all absolutely thrilled that Wayne's work and all he does to encourage a real love of reading has been recognised and honoured.  It is a wonderful accolade for the Kids Lit Quiz too."  

The Kids Lit Quiz 20th Birthday International Celebration Quiz will take place in New Zealand in July 2011. Two teams from the UK will compete. The winning team from Cockermouth School (UK champions) and the team from Bristol Grammar School (English champions.)

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Deadline approching for SLYA and Library Design Award nominations

There are only 10 days left to get your nominations for the 2011 School Librarian of the Year in to the SLA office! The deadline for nominations is 14 January 2011. Nomination forms are available to download here. Make it a new year's resolution to show a colleague how much you appreciate them and their contribution to students' acheivements and send in a nomination for them.

2011 will also be the inaugural year of our new Library Design Awards, sponsored by Demco Interiors, aimed at rewarding school libraries that show innovation, creativity and resourcefulness in their design. Full details and nomination form are available here and the closing date for nominations is also 14 January 2011.

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