School Librarians lobby Parliament!


The day finally came – the day that school librarians in the UK lobbied Parliament about making school libraries statutory, and inspected by Ofsted (thus ensuring that schools had libraries and librarians). School Librarians in Scotland lobbied their Parliament on Saturday 27th, as they were not on half term this week, and School Librarians in the rest of the UK lobbied Parliament on 29th October.  It was a momentous day, with authors joining the lobby, and even Guardian books tweeting about the day.  Those who couldn’t go tweeted about the day, and showed their support.  To read a Storify of these tweets, go to this link:  Not every tweet from the day was there, as many of them were asking for support, but the story of the day in tweets and pictures is there.  As you can see from the tweets, some good stuff was done with MP’s, and some promises made.  It is not too late to contact your MP and ask to meet him in surgery, or just put your point over in a letter.  As many MP’s around the country should be contacted – we need to ride this wave.  The lobby doesn’t end today – lets keep up the pressure.  One of the greatest blogs of the day came from Jeff Norton, who completely ‘gets’ what school libraries are about.  With especial thanks to Barbara Band, newly appointed CILIP Vice President, for her enthusiasm and initiative, and Elizabeth Bentley for ensuring that everyone was kitted out in the fabulous T shirts.  If you want to add comments or congratulations the the Facebook page, here it is.  Enjoy the tweeted story of the day, and keep up the good work!

The cartoon was drawn for the day by Sarah McIntyre, and was used by kind permission.  It depicts Sarah and Philip Ardargh on the campaign trail.  Sarah’s great blog post about the day with some wonderful photos is here.

T S Eliot Prize Shadowing Scheme

The shortlist has been announced for the 2012 T S Eliot Prize.  The 10 shortlisted poets and their works are:

  • Simon Armitage The Death of King Arthur
  • Sean Borodale Bee Journal
  • Gillian Clarke ICE
  • Julia Copus The World’s Two Smallest Humans
  • Paul Farley The Dark Film
  • Jorie Graham P L A C E
  • Kathleen Jamie The Overhaul
  • Sharon Olds Stag’s Leap
  • Jacob Polley The Havocs
  • Deryn Rees-Jones Bringing the Wren

The Poetry Book Society in partnership with the English and Media Centre are also running a shadowing scheme.  Open to GCSE and A level students, students are encouraged to read the poems and to take part in a poll vote for their choice of winner.  A level (or equivalent) students can also enter an essay competition to write the best 500 word rationale for their choice of poet.

This would be a perfect opportunity for a reading group to participate in the shadowing scheme as along with two poems from each of the 10 shortlisted collections discussion ideas and biographies are also available.  All downloads are available at  A teachers guide is also available on the emagazine website at

The emagazine also includes 6 suggestions for schools and colleges on how to organise the reading and discussion of the poems at

The deadline for rational entries and student poll closes on 18th December 2012.  The Award Ceremony with the announcement of the T S Eliot winner along with the student poll and winning student rationale is on 14th January 2013 at the Wallace Collection, London.


Urgent questionnaire about the impact of author visits on reading

The Children’s Writers and Illustrator group, part of the Society of Authors has asked all of us to fill in an important questionnaire (link to Google doc at end of post).  Children’s authors Bali Rai and Helena Pielchaty say that the group has met with representatives in the DfE about how to get the Government and Ofsted to recognise the value of libraries in schools and the impact of author visits on reading.  The committee was advised that any letter sent to Sir Michael Wilshaw (Ofsted) would have to have evidence to back it up.  This survey is to collect the evidence from all of us.  We all know that author visits always generate interest in that author’s books, and reading, so I think we can all give a positive response to this.  The responses need to be in by November 12th, please email them to  Thank you.  Link to survey here:

Are you involved in delivering the EPQ?

Are you involved in delivering the EPQ in your school?  School librarians are increasingly being asked to get involved with this, with various levels of involvement.  For some, it involves stocking their libraries with books especially for the project, for some, supporting lessons, and for some, like John Iona of Oasis Academy in Enfield, it involves leading the project.  I asked John to write about his experiences for Heart.  John says:

‘I was asked to be responsible for the management, planning, development and delivery of the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) course at level two in 2011-12, with a pilot group of ten year 11 pupils. For this course, pupils are able to choose a topic they are interested in and formulate a question around this topic. They then have to plan their project, carry out their research and then write up their findings in the form of an essay. The model is that of a university dissertation, and is based around pupils building upon and demonstrating their independent learning skills  For me, the course involved teaching pupils the skills they will need to complete their research project, which involved planning and delivering lessons that covered the full research process. As I was managing the course, I had to ensure that what I delivered would cover the assessment objectives demanded by the course specification, and so lessons were integrated over the year to teach pupils what they needed at the relevant stage of their project work.  This year, I now have 40 year 11 pupils on the course, and have EPQ Supervisors to help to mentor students on the course and mark projects. Having learned lessons from our pilot year, I have planned to deliver the teaching element through a pilot project at the beginning of the year. This will give me the chance to teach and model, and pupils learn and demonstrate, the skills pupils will use for their own projects. I will then give shorter sessions at relevant points when pupils are working on their personal projects, in order to refresh them on the skills they should be using and demonstrating in their work. This year will also use a much tighter time-schedule with firmer and numerous deadlines for pupils’ work, to ensure the best success-rate possible and more robust, targeted support to pupils.From a personal point-of-view, my role in delivering this qualification has been a challenging but rewarding one and has developed my own skills in terms of managing teaching and learning. More generally, the EPQ is a course which all Librarians should seek to be involved in, in some capacity, if it is delivered at their schools. Librarians have the expertise in the the skills it demands of students, and therefore will have much to offer in the teaching and supporting of students on this course.’

If you are interested in learning more about running the EPQ course, and getting training yourself, the School Library Association is running an online course with School Librarian Sarah Pavey.  Have a look at the course here.   And finally, if you are on Diigo you can join the EPQ group and share useful bookmarks here.  Have a look at this fantastic guide  to the EPQ  created by School Librarian Lesley Watts from the King Edward VI school.  This is on Issuu, and will not be visible on iPads  due to rights reasons.