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SLYA Citation for Frances Sinclair


  • Stromness Academy, Orkney
    Nominated by Sue Graves, acting Depute Rector
Frances Sinclair being presented with her Honour Certificate by SLA President Aidan Chambers
Frances Sinclair being presented with her
Honour Certificate by SLA President Aidan Chambers

During her 12½ years at the school Frances has carved out her own role, spreading the library across the curriculum and creating a welcoming environment with a friendly atmosphere for all students . “Our dream library”, say the students, “is this one. It has everything in it. It’s organised, under control and with space for learning and reading”. Frances deserves recognition for overcoming an isolated geographical location to ensure that the library is progressive and socially inclusive, the most effective place in the school. All sorts of students find a home in the library and feel valued there. Frances actively promotes ICT and, as a skilful practitioner herself, is able to support both staff and students.

Some of her biggest achievements include exciting library induction programmes and refresher courses at all levels so that the students always know their way around the library and can help themselves. Frances is highly regarded by staff and collaborates with departments to develop learning courses, ensuring that work is always stimulating and fun for students. The library is “the backbone of teaching and learning for the RS course and Frances holds it all together with targeted learning activities and project collections” according to the Head of Department. She has successfully bid for external funding and set up initiatives to promote students’ reading and writing across the curriculum, always involving and encouraging parents to support their students’ learning too. She’s passionate about books. She gets students interested and really helps them branch out in their reading. She’s wonderful at finding reading for students and is very well-read herself, starting up reading clubs, involving students in choosing and buying stock for the library and is even guilty of keeping them up till the early hours as the books she chooses are so unputdownable!

Her first concern is always to involve pupils through frequent bookfairs, regular competitions and eye-catching displays. She has revolutionised the use of the library with after school study support, games clubs and a library assistant scheme as well as encouraged after school use of the library by the local community. She sees the library in its broader sense as a support for parents, teachers and the wider community. She’s developed her own unique vision, wide-ranging in its scope, of how the library supports learning and student development. “You know if she gets her teeth into something it’s going to happen” say the staff. “She’s not like a teacher”, say the students. “She’s very pupil-friendly. She’s good at coming up with ideas to get people involved in the library, looks for change and keeps in touch with the wider library network. She’s an authority figure but one of us too and works very hard to show that the library is cool and that reading is interesting and fun. It’s a difficult job but she’s very committed. She keeps a relaxed atmosphere so the library is a really nice place to come to learn and read in and for pleasure. She really believes in school libraries and does more than her job. The school doesn’t work as well without her”.