I was delighted to speak at the 10th annual Festival of Education at Wellington College on behalf of the CILIP School Libraries Group and School Library Association’s #GreatSchoolLibraries campaign.
If you’ve never been to #EducationFest before (it was my first time) I don’t think you can be properly prepared for the sheer scale of the event. I don’t have exact figures, but reports indicated that well over 1,000 teachers, Heads and representatives of educational charities and unions attended over the two days of the festival.
Looking very much like an upscale school fete, the event featured a ‘BBC Tent’, a makeshift studio and lots of organisations offering new ideas and solutions for teachers.
My talk was scheduled at the same time as the introduction of the new OfSTED Inspection Framework, so I was sceptical about getting an audience – but in fact I needn’t have worried. We had a good roomful of (mostly) teachers with some school librarians in attendance too.
For the talk, I set myself the task of “getting you excited about great school libraries (and librarians) and the difference they can make to your school, your students and you.” My main goal was to refresh the participant’s thinking about the role of school libraries and librarians and particularly to get them to understand that, far from sitting passively in the library, modern school librarians are out there making themselves useful and being excellent colleagues for their teaching peers.
It was really encouraging to see several participants re-evaluating their relationship (or lack thereof) with their school librarian. Most people had a library and a librarian in their school, but a couple also mentioned that they realised how much they were missing out on not having one – and even committed to going back and making the case for a professional librarian to their SLT!
I introduced the FOSIL methodology and Empathy Lab – both of which really helped the teachers in the room to see school librarians in a new light. It was also great to be able to back this up with lots of examples of brilliant innovative school librarians and the difference they were making in their schools.
All in all, it was a really positive experience and one I would definitely hope to repeat. We are going to approach the Association of Head Teachers about the possibility of bringing the #GreatSchoolLibraries message to their conference. But most of all, I hope it sparks some new ideas for teachers about how to work with their librarian. If it is useful, do take a look at the slides and use them with your own colleagues.