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SLYA Citation for Joy Wassell Timms


Parrs Wood School is a specialist Arts and Technology College with 2,000 pupils, a wide social catchment area, children with different ethnic backgrounds and a high percentage of children with special educational needs.

The Library space, which is on the ground floor, was halved to accommodate PCs for 2 classes so it is far too small for the size of the school. Joy has coped well, using shelving bays to help with sight lines and taken advantage of the minimum light as well as forming a very small 6th form study area. There are excellent displays, many of which are very current.

There are a number of pupil-librarians trained by Joy and also a library committee, which meets three times a year in lesson time to plan events and activities.

There is a total of 8,000 resources, of which 1,500 are fiction arranged by genre and Groves and OED are online throughout the school. The library space is too small for whole class lessons but is used by small groups and for 1-1 teaching throughout the day. Joy teaches a course of 6 library lessons to Year 7 and the library is included in the 6th form induction. Students can come to the LRC during the day to research but there are also resources in subject areas.

As Joy cannot take large groups she concentrates on small group work particularly for reading promotion. She has extremely successful reading groups for Years 7, 8 and 9. A year 8 Boyz reading group also write drama scripts of books they read to be acted to Year 6 on their taster days. These groups are self-fulfilling and also raise funds for author visits and charities. Activities include book awards, in particular the Manchester Book Award, special events, focus events and author visits. The Year 9 poetry group is an optional tutor time activity where individuals choose poems to read and discuss; this is particularly successful due to Joy’s interest in poetry as she is currently studying for an MA in poetry.

Joy was nominated by a Year 9 student and member of the library committee. She thought the library was the best because it was "not just a store of books – would be rubbish if it was – all the groups and things" and of Joy she said "it’s her knowledge of everything – words, poetry…".

The Headmaster said Joy is a facilitator and motivator, not just one who puts systems in place. She offered a high quality service and had good links with staff. Joy’s line manager is a deputy Head who described how Joy contributed to weekly staff briefings, keeping the library profile high. He felt that Joy had taken advantage of the space reduction "provision reduced – quality enhanced" and that the testimony for her success was that she had made the library a place where students "could be with people who make them feel safe" irrespective of background or achievement. Other staff commented on Joy’s ability to welcome students at all levels; one said "Joy: she is a joy!!", another said she "does exactly what we need". The English KS3 co-ordinator told us how Boys into Books has now become a strand of the Faculty Improvement Plan.

Student comments included "the library is like a family you could join…". In a 2000 strong school the comment that "It is a quiet space where you don’t have to be with the others" told of the Library’s value. Joy "was like a big friend" and another said that "Miss had opened up a whole new world for us". You came away with the feeling that Joy really valued the students' opinions and they in turn felt empowered by this.

For the first time ever we received two unsolicited testimonials from parents and it was because a parent had heard about the Award that Joy was nominated for. Joy has created a busy, welcoming, informal and relaxed atmosphere where all are made welcome at all times of the day.