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SLA Blog » June 2014RSS 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.

Siobhan Dowd Trust School Library Competition


The Siobhan Dowd Trust is delighted to announce an increased number of winners for the School Library Competition for 2014. Eight schools will get cash awards of £500, while another four will get awards of £1,500, £3,000, £3,000 and £6,000.

Kate Powling, Director of the Trust said: "We were pleased to get so many entries for our school library competition, but shocked at how much need the entries demonstrated; it seems there are lots of libraries in schools without rooms, librarians, and in some cases books."

The winners were announced at the School Library Association Weekend Course in Manchester, and a local school, Light Oaks Junior School in Salford, won the top prize. The Library at Light Oaks has suffered an arson attack and a flood so the Judges felt it was time to attempt to reverse their run of bad luck. In their winning application, teacher Hannah Burke wrote "On reading of your exciting competition, I was bursting with enthusiasm to enter as I believe our cries for help have been heard. The desperate need for money to re-establish our library has been felt by all the staff, pupils and parents of our school."

This years judges were: Tony Bradman (Author and Chairman of the Siobhan Dowd Trust), Carol Webb (the Librarian at Forest Hill School, South London & the SLA School Librarian of the Year 2011), Charlotte Hacking (Teaching and Learning Manager at the Centre of Literacy in Primary Education) and James Dawson (ex-Primary teacher, YA Author and Queen of Teen nominee).

Download the full list of winners here.

The Siobhan Dowd Trust is a charity that was set up by the author Siobhan Dowd to use the royalties from her books to fund reading projects for disadvantaged young readers.

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June 2014

Weekend Course 2014 - Wendy Cooling and Malorie Blackman
Weekend Course 2014 - Wendy Cooling and Malorie Blackman

It seems an age since I have had chance to talk about what we have been doing at SLA – and some of the things we/I get involved in!  So here goes…

Malorie signing books for delegates
Malorie signing books for delegates


The Weekend Course in Manchester passed in a blur of activity.  Having only a 2 day course this year we had a packed agenda, and I am sure all the delegates felt much like me, that it passed in a whirl, and there was so much to take in. There were so many highlights, but Malorie Blackman as our opening plenary was great! I am sure people will be assessing what they learned, heard and saw over the coming months, ready for applying in school next year.  As we can we will add presentations and other documents to the website so that everyone can use materials from sessions they saw (or catch up on sessions they could not attend).  Do keep checking back on the website.  Librarianwithattitude created a great storify from the event.

Next year we have a 3 day course – at Yarnfield Park, Stone in Staffordshire – from June 12-14th, so we start to plan now, to make it equally as buzzy and informative.

Prior to the Weekend Course I was talking to a group of school librarians at a lovely venue in Dorset – I do so enjoy talking face to face with members (and non-members) about the practicalities of life in school libraries.  This is what makes our association so valuable to librarians – the opportunities events give for informal networking and local support.

Coming straight after the course it was off to London for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway award ceremony.  Having been a chair of judges some years ago I know how much hard work, heart searching and re-reading goes into the decision to award the prizes.  The discussion caused by this year’s choices has been invigorating, and it’s fascinating how many schools and students had agreed with the judges this year!  You can also see the award ceremony online – a first for the awards.

Then on Wednesday I was invited to an unusual event – the EFDSS Full English showcase. So what do the English Folk Dance and Song Society have to do with school libraries – well, not a lot at first glance, but just think of the creative and storytelling opportunities that can be stimulated by the use of the text of an old folk song.  The EFDSS has recently put their huge archive on line so it is freely available to all; plus they have just completed a huge project with lots of schools based on the archive – and this event was a showcase for all of these.  What a rich seam of drama, dance and music came out of this!  There are several upcoming events to show teachers and librarians the resources – check them out.

Next I’m looking forward to the Reading Matters Conference in July, in Brighouse.  Talking about books and reading for pleasure I shall be looking forward to another stimulating discussion!  If you’re in the area do have a look at the programme.

Now – back to planning for autumn events and next year’s course!

Tricia Adams.

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Job Vacancies: The St Marylebone Church of England School Specialist School for the Performing Arts - Librarian

Required for September 2014

The St Marylebone Church of England Sixth Form is looking for a proactive professional to develop our library and learning resource centre into an actively used hub for learning, literacy and research.  

The successful candidate will work with the Deputy Headteacher, the Director of Sixth Form and Heads of Department to deliver excellent provision, manage the School Bookshop, collate and produce high quality school publications and journals and make a creative and meaningful contribution to the development and learning of young people.

Advert and Person Spec

Word document, 162 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 97 or later)


St Marylebone is one of the new outstanding converter academies and one of the original 100 Teaching Schools. The School is committed to the pursuit of academic excellence, achieving over 90% 5 A* - C at GCSE for the last 10 years.

How to apply: Please submit a completed application form and full CV to:  recruitment[at]stmaryleboneschool.com

Application forms are available to download from here:

Application Form

Word document, 121 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 97 or later)


or from the School’s website: www.stmaryleboneschool.com/vacancies

Applications to be received as soon as possible but no later than midday on Wednesday 9th June

The School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children & vulnerable adults and it is our expectation that all staff and volunteers share this commitment. The successful applicant will be required to apply for an Enhanced Disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

More Details...

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Mobile Tech book from the SLA

Mobile TechnologyMobile Technology and the School Library is a major new title in our 'Guidelines Plus' series.

In this new and comprehensive study, Sarah Pavey outlines the important role of mobile technology and learning for the forward looking school library. Its recent growth, the financial implications and Health & Safety issues are explained, then too Reading for Pleasure and possible choice of e-readers, Information Literacy and the importance of mobile technology as a teaching and learning tool and the role of apps. The references are excellent too. This is an important read for all school library staff who want their library and its practices to be at the forefront of the digital learning revolution.

Available to order online via the SLA.
ISBN 978-1-903446-82-9.

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Job Vacancies: Francis Holland School - School Librarian (Maternity Cover)

Required November 2014

We are seeking an enthusiastic and well qualified Chartered Librarian to join this academically selective girls’ school, situated next to Regent’s Park.  The Librarian is a fully integrated member of staff and plays an important role in the life of the school.  Experience of working in a school would be valuable but is not essential. Francis Holland has its own attractive salary scale.

For details of this post and an application form please contact

jobs[at]fhs-nw1.org.uk as soon as possible or telephone: 020 7723 0176.

Applications to be received as soon as possible, by Noon, Tuesday 26th August 2014

FHS is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and the successful applicant will be subject to DBS clearance.

Registered Charity : 312745

More Details...

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Information Book Award Voting Opens: Vote for your favourite Information Book

Voting for the 2014 SLA Information Book Award is now open.

School librarians (or similar professionals) can vote on behalf of their school now.

Between 18 June and 18 September, schools can cast their vote for their favourite Information Book in the SLA's Information Book Award 2014, sponsored by Hachette Children's Books and supported by Peters Books and Furniture.

The SLA and the sponsors of the Information Book Award are keen that schools and their students should have a say in the final decision.

Each school can vote online for their favourite book in each category (Under 7s, 7-12 and 12-16) and for their overall favourite.

More Details...

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Skills From Brazil - FREE poster available!

Just in case you weren’t aware, the brand new book in the Jamie Johnson series, SKILLS FROM BRAZIL by Dan Freeman, has just been released. So, time to celebrate!

  • A  fantastic FREE poster, featuring England star Jack Wishere with the book, is available for you to download, print off and display from Dan's website http://www.danfreedman.co.uk/  (scroll down and look on the right hand side of the page for the fabulous yellow poster).
  • Dan is running a National Book Review competition, with an England Shirt, signed by the England World Cup Squad, as the prize for the best review of SKILLS FROM BRAZIL that he receives. This is the top story on his website, with full details of how your pupils can enter.
  • There are some really terrific lesson plans based around SKILL FROM BRAZIL. Great to channel the World Cup buzz into something really positive: http://www.danfreedman.co.uk/schools/teaching-resources/lesson-plans-skills-from-brazil/

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SEN Course cancelled!

Raising Achievement: the school library's role in supporting SEN and EAL students in KS2 and 3 was due to run on 18th June at Warwickshire SLS, Unit 11a/b Montague Road, Warwick. Unfortunately we have had to cancel the course. Please get in touch with us if you would like to register interest in attending this course in the future.

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Job Vacancies: Heanor Gate Science College - Assistant Librarian

Assistant Librarian  -  SCP 20—23
37 hours per week (42 weeks per year)
Monday – Thursday 8:00am-4:00pm
Friday 8:00am-3:30pm
(half hour lunch break)

An enthusiastic and approachable Assistant Librarian is required to join our small, successful library team.  The post holder will be responsible for the efficient day-to-day operation of the busy library, managing physical resources and providing accurate administrative support for the service, including assisting with the maintenance of the school website.  The role will also include providing support to students and staff using the library.

Candidates must have an interest in working with young people, be able to communicate clearly, both verbally and in writing, and have competent ICT skills.

The successful candidate will be willing to undertake appropriate training to further develop their skills and knowledge.

An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check is required for this post.

The school has a proven commitment to ‘Equality of Opportunity’ and actively promotes the welfare and safeguarding of young people.

Closing date:  12 noon 27 June 2014

Application packs may be downloaded from the school’s website:

Telephone: 01773 716396

E-mail: praisin2[at]heanorgate.derbyshire.sch.uk

Website: www.heanorgate.org.uk 

More Details...

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Job Vacancies: Clifton High School - School Librarian

Required for August 2014

Clifton High School is a selective, co-educational, independent day school for 500 pupils aged 3-18 years.  Situated on a beautiful Bristol site we operate the Diamond Model, underpinned by a strong pastoral and family ethos.

We are seeking to appoint a professionally qualified librarian to manage and develop our Junior and Senior libraries and provide an effective resource-based environment for academic study and research.  The School Librarian supports teaching and learning across the curriculum, promotes the development of study skills and encourages reading through a programme of extra-curricular book clubs and literary events.

The successful candidate will possess excellent organisational and communication skills and will be able to work independently. Strong IT skills are essential and experience of e-learning would be an advantage.

The hours of work will be Monday to Friday 8.30- 17.30 during term time + 20 days during the School holidays. Salary will be dependent on qualifications and experience.

Interested applicants are welcome to contact Kate Solly, HR, to discuss their application and further details can be found at www.cliftonhigh.bristol.sch.uk.  Completed application forms should be accompanied by a letter to the Head of School, Dr Alison Neill and emailed to hr[at]cliftonhigh.bristol.sch.uk

Clifton High School Application Form

Word document, 98 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 97 or later)



Closing date for applications: Thursday 19th June 2014

More Details...

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iCan with an iPad: Sevenoaks, Kent, 26 June 2014


Our course iCan with an iPad, run by Bev Humphrey, will be held at Walthamstow Hall School, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 3UL on 26 June 2014. The closing date is 12 June 2014. Bookings received by 5 June 2014 are eligible for a discount.

Key Audience:

primary and secondary school library staff, public library staff

Testimonials include:

'Wonderful presenter, enthusiastic about books and technology for teaching and learning'

'An excellent, inspiring course'

More Details...

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Inspiration Award: Inspiration Award Shortlist

Four primary and three secondary schools are in the running for most inspirational school library. The SLA in conjunction with Gresswell and LFC are pleased to announce the shortlist for the SLA School Library Inspiration Award 2014.

The shortlisted entries are:
Primary School Category, sponsored by LFC

  •     Ashington Central First School, Northumberland
  •     Battyeford CE (VC) Primary School, West Yorkshire
  •     Oak Tree Primary School, Nottinghamshire
  •     Whyteleafe School, Surrey

Secondary School Category, sponsored by Gresswell

  •     Bishop Challoner Catholic College, Birmingham
  •     Budmouth College, Dorset
  •     Dixons Allerton Academy, West Yorkshire

Tricia Adams, Director of the School Library Association said “The judges were impressed with the quality of the entries from both primary and secondary schools. We would like to thank all the schools who entered and we look forward to the final judging for the winner and the Awards Ceremony in the Autumn.”

Read the full Press Release:

More Details...

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Wrd - new magazine

WRDWRd is a quarterly magazine for 8-13 year olds who are keen on reading for pleasure, whether they are regular school library users, or perhaps part of a school-hosted book club.

Published by school supplier Peters Books & Furniture, and formerly known as tBk Mag, a recent rebrand to WRd has heralded a bright, fun and contemporary make-over of the magazine, bringing it fully up-to-date with a discerning readership, whilst retaining all of the best bits they have come to know and love; relevant and interesting extracts to encourage readers to pick up and read the whole book, review pages that motivate students to write their own reviews and send them in, and plenty of other features to keep readers engaged and primed to read more. In addition, there are new sections, features and activities, adding even more value and appeal. The newly rebranded magazine has proved highly popular in school libraries across the country, and not just with keen readers, but struggling and reluctant readers too.

To celebrate the launch of the rejuvenated magazine, Peters are offering a variety of special offers to new, lapsed or existing subscribers which include discounted subscription rates, branded stickers, vinyl wall graphics and floor mats. To find out more, simply email wrdmagazine@peters-books.co.uk or call Peters on 0121 666 6646 and ask for Joyce-Elayne Whitmore.

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FULLY FUNDED place at Greening Education 2014

Govtoday is delighted to be hosting the Greening Education 2014, which will be held on Monday, the 9th of June 2014 at the Mermaid, the city of London.

We are inviting you to attend with a FULLY FUNDED* ticket as a Member of the School Library Association.

FULLY FUNDED* tickets are currently being made available for those public and third sector delegates who qualify.

To register your attendance and to see if you qualify for this event, please telephone 0161 7133857 or email bookings@govtoday.co.uk using the code on the following downloadable document.

Greening Education

Word document, 34 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 2007 or later)



For further information about the event visit: http://www.greeningeducation.co.uk/,https://greening2014.govtoday.co.uk/

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FREE Unconference in North East

“Libraries R.I.P. – Reading in Peril”

FREE Unconference

You choose the agenda - A fun and practical opportunity to discuss your concerns about children's libraries and reading.  Come along and explore solutions, be inspired and motivate fellow library workers from around the region, in a supportive environment.

There’ll be lots of cake, and even a prize for the best name badge!

Saturday 14th June 2014           10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Bewick Room

Newcastle City Library

33 New Bridge Street West

Newcastle upon Tyne


Everyone welcome - for further details and to start posting your suggestions for discussion topics visit our Wiki page:


Please book your FREE place by 6th June 2014 by clicking on the Eventbrite link: http://ylgnortheastunconference.eventbrite.co.uk

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Swotting up on Historical Fiction How I do research by Paul Dowswell

PAul DowswellGuest blog from Paul Dowswell

I think Historical Fiction is a great way to interest a reader in real history – it puts you in the shoes of people who lived through often terrible times. The sort of terrible times that make exciting and readable stories. I do believe very strongly that historical fiction should be good history so I try my best to be as historically accurate as possible. This involves a period of immersing myself in the era I’m writing about.

Nothing beats a trip to the place that features in your story. Walking the same streets as your characters is fantastically inspirational. I spent an afternoon aboard HMS Trincomalee in Hartlepool – a frigate from the early 19th Century. I got a third of my ‘Powder Monkey’ story about a boy in Nelson’s Navy from that. Likewise, I got lost in the bush outside Sydney, Australia, and once I’d recovered my direction, after about three hours, I managed to write about four chapters of the sequel to ‘Powder Monkey’, ‘Prison Ship’, based on this very experience.

Travel doesn’t have to be expensive. I usually visit places away from peak times and try to stay with friends, or friends of friends, or rent apartments so I don’t have to eat in restaurants. (Much cheaper to cook!)

When you’re on your travels you also meet people who can be very useful to your book. I met an Australian academic who acted as a consultant on my book (introduced via a chat with the National Archive gift shop lady who asked what I was doing in Australia). When I visited Berlin to research my book ‘Sektion 20’, about living in Communist East Germany, I met an artist/actor, through a friend, who became the inspiration for my main character.

I also read vast amounts, to get ideas, and also to make sure I’m keeping within the bounds of historical accuracy. The British Library is an invaluable resource here. I avoid novels when I’m researching a new book (too much scope for plagiarism) but do find films and TV serials very useful for dialogue. Those Jane Austen dramas were good for trying to get a feel for the way people spoke in the early 19th Century when I wrote my books about a boy in Nelson’s Navy. I’m currently writing about the air war in 1943, and films from the era (or shortly after) are an invaluable way in to constructing dialogue that chimes with the way they spoke during the war.

For my latest book ‘Red Shadow’, set in the Kremlin in 1941, I managed to get a cheap flight to Moscow by going in October and found somewhere very reasonable to stay through friends who had been there. Museums and archives weren’t a great deal of use as I speak only three words of Russian. But just walking those streets, seeing those sights and wandering around the many museums was a fantastic inspiration. I also read Vasily Grossman’s ‘Life and Fate’ (set during the Second World War) to get a feel for how ordinary Russians spoke and addressed each other during the war.

The main thing about research though is that it has to serve your story – not the other way round. Just because you know what Stalin’s office in the Kremlin looked like doesn’t mean you have to describe it in great detail. Never get carried away with cramming all those hard won facts into your story. If your characters escape by bus, I think it’s good to know that busses were running at the time, but you don’t need to know what colour the bus company livery was. Ultimately, the most important parts of your story are your plot and your characters. All that research is the wall paper, the background, not the point of it.

Paul Dowswell

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Weekend Course 2014: Delegates staying on Thursday night...

Andersen Press are holding a 'War Girls' event in the Lancashire Infantry Museum in Preston on 19th June. It will be a panel of four contributing authors who have all won the Carnegie Medal – Anne Fine, Melvin Burgess, Berlie Doherty and Theresa Breslin – chaired by a journalist from BBC Lancashire. More details are on the attached PDF.
SLA members in the area for the Weekend Course the next day may like to attend the event.   It is a free event for librarians and other children's book world people and they'd love to see SLA members.  Contact Eve Warlow to confirm attendance.


More Details...

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