Primary school transition work

Karen Hans announcing 2008 Phoenix prize winner

Karen Hans announcing winner of 2008 Phoenix prize



In Lambeth the local school librarians got together a few years ago to create an alternative to the Carnegie prize which would be suitable for year 6 and year 7 pupils, allowing us to positively introduce fiction books and secondary school librarians to primary school children and reluctant year 7 readers.  Commissioning a website for pupil reviews was probably the most exciting development so far and each year we try to build on the year before with a bigger and better finale event.  Most years we have had the winning author in attendance to speak about their book and last year we were able to give a free book to every pupil participating in the award process.  See for more information.


 Karen Hans, CILIP School Libraries Group National Committee


With links already existing between Art, Drama, Sport, Maths and the local Junior School, it seemed a natural progression to involve the Library. And as the school was sited across the road, then it was easy to arrange for the younger children to come across to visit me. Apart from the benefits to the children – the more they are familiar with secondary school, the more comfortable they are visiting, then the easier transition is – there are also benefits to the Library. Not least being that if you can instil a positive impression of the Library before they even start at the school then they are more likely to use it once they arrive!

I arranged to see the two year 5 classes for three lessons each. The aim was to introduce the Library and to run a small project using basic search skills. The first lesson was very interesting as I thought I was going to spend the whole hour answering questions … from how many books do you have to have you read them all but I was happy to satisfy the children’s curiosity as I knew that my Library was very unlike the one they experienced at their own school! I then began the project by asking them what things were different in other countries and why. I had been able to gather together various artefacts to illustrate this – flags, books and newspapers in other languages, money, costumes, masks, musical instruments, etc. – and we talked about religious, climatic and cultural differences. An hour later, they left with a free bookmark.

The second lesson I explained about using the subject index, and also how to find information in books using contents and index pages. I then gave each pair of children a country to research, having ensured that I had enough resources at the appropriate level. I had already printed blank outline maps of each country and had created a mind-map template with questions for them to fill in. They had to label the map with the names of surrounding countries/seas, major rivers and cities; the template involved finding out about money, religion, flags, festivals, the highest mountain and climate.

I began the last lesson with a traditional African story and followed this up with a talk on the use of masks in Africa, from their origins in tribal religion to today’s use in festivals. I had found several models of masks online which I had printed out onto white card so the lesson finished with a mask-making activity and I was amused to discover that the accompanying teachers joined in with this!

I had targeted Year 5 for this activity as I ran it during the summer term once year 11 had gone on study leave and I am now following it up with various reading group activities plus whole class research visits, linking in with their current work. Overall, this was a successful project that left a positive impression of the Library with them. I was delighted at the first visit when they moved confidently into the Library and immediately started browsing the shelves and exclaiming over the books they were finding and equally pleased with one boy’s parting comment “this is the best Library in the world!”

Barbara Band

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