How good is our school library? is a companion guide to the main How good is our school? framework. It aims to support library staff and senior managers to evaluate the specific contributions the library makes to school improvement.
The school library is a key resource in supporting the delivery of the Curriculum for Excellence and plays a central role in helping children and young people gain the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for learning, life and work.
Whereas the wider How good is our school? framework consists of 15 Quality Indicators (QIs), How good is our school library? focuses on six key indicators where the library is likely to have a strong role in supporting improvement.
These Quality Indicators are divided into three categories:
Leadership and Management: How good is our leadership and approach to improvement?
Learning Provision: How good is the quality of care and education we offer?
Successes and Achievements: How good are we at ensuring the best possible outcomes for all our learners?
When evidence from the six Quality Indicators is combined, it can create a unique and powerful story to demonstrate the impact of the school library on learning.
In some cases, school libraries make significant contributions to indicators other than those set out in the guide. In this instance libraries may choose to follow the general principles of self-evaluation and include additional QIs from the main How good is our school? framework. It is recommended this is discussed and agreed locally in order to fit in with the whole school approach.
Below you will find case studies relating to the six Quality Indicators in the How good is our school library? framework. They are examples of highly effective practice and will help you identify the sort of evidence which supports self-evaluation.
However it is not a definitive list and may not apply to your context. As part of your ongoing self-evaluation, rather than try and replicate these examples, you should gather evidence from your own setting to indicate the strengths of your work.
Case Study 1:
The effective use of digital technology is a good example of using resource management to promote equality. In this case study, learners were invited to create digital book trailers to promote reading for pleasure and raise attainment in literacy.
Library staff then developed a collection of web pages to support learning and teaching, creating a Virtual School Library which was available to all staff and young people via the school intranet.
The aim was to highlight the central role which the school library can play in supporting learning across the school; and to encourage a whole-school approach to resource provision and skills development. The Virtual School Library now comprises a large collection of web pages and directs users to recommend resources for research on topics across the curriculum. This includes pages which support literacy development and promote reading culture, as well as personal and social development.
Staff and young people have an awareness of, and contribute to, this whole school resource. Its common approach to resource provision and skills development offers a whole-school facility with which staff and pupils are familiar, minimising teaching time spent to explain and direct young people.
Access to a range of downloadable learning resources eliminates the need for hard copies of worksheets and encourages pupils to organise their learning. There is also plenty of opportunity to meet with representatives from faculties across the school. This allows further development of the resource to meet subject-specific and cross-curricular learning outcomes. Pages are redesigned on an ongoing basis to conform to W3C standards, with a view to uploading the resource to the internet – allowing access at home and throughout the wider learning community
Case Study 2:
In this example library staff and school colleagues were trained as Google Trainers to support the development of Google Suite for Education across the curriculum. As a starting point, library staff set up a Google Classroom for Reading Café using it to plan, inform and run extra-curricular activities. They also supported school colleagues to set up and use their own Google classrooms confidently.
The goal was to look at new ways of working in school and see whether the use of Google Suite for Education could help in running Reading Club activities in a new and exciting way. Book trailers were shared as “homework” and collaborative working documents set up for activities.
As a result the Reading Club has become much more vibrant and interactive. The young people love the interactive features of Classroom, with discussions about books and recommendations flowing more naturally and at times when they want to share information.
Some struggle with access to Classsroom at home and its important to be aware of this when activities are set. Local authority staff are looking for ways to address this.
Library staff are now focusing on developing a range of library-based activities for S1 Information Literacy which can be set via Google Classroom. Longer term plans include developing a transition project with cluster primaries and increasing the use of Google Suite for Education in Schools.
Having skilled library staff who are able to keep pace with changes in technology ensures their role in supporting learning also develops in the digital era.
Here library staff took the lead in an Inter Disciplinary Learning, Literacy and Mental Health project for S3. The large-scale project united English, Personal & Social Education, Art and the library by focusing on friendships and the ability to talk freely with friends about anxieties.
Having become aware of an increase in anxiety levels, library staff approached school colleagues with ideas for a cross-curricular inclusive project. The focus was on students developing their understanding and confidence, as well as increasing motivation in reading and writing skills. For library and school staff, it was a chance to gain a better understanding of the pressures young people face and for this awareness to impact on them as educational practitioners.
Through the ‘Getting Grounded!’ project library staff developed and promoted partnerships with Scottish Book Trust, the Scottish Association for Mental Health, the local council’s Wellbeing Hub and colleagues within school. External partners introduced diverse ideas such as advocacy and self-empowerment to the young people, offering them the opportunity to explore these concepts. Regular development meetings between library staff, teachers and the Guidance Team were held to discuss how to develop literacy, health and wellbeing skills in a progressive way.
Activities such as presentations, live broadcasts and research-based projects have helped pupils develop their independence, enhance their information literacy skills and their ability to think critically. This has led to an overall increase in transferable skills.
The library’s role in the curriculum has been enhanced, with the library developing its links with management, the Guidance Team and school departments. It continues to help learners through effective partnership working and a shared understanding of curriculum development.
Case Study 1:
Introducing new activities and increasing learner engagement is a good example of how library staff can have an impact on learning, teaching and assessment. In this instance, the S2 library programme was redesigned – introducing the concept of pupils making their own book trailers.
Feedback from S2 pupils had shown library periods were considered boring and repetitive. Engagement was also low, with many pupils seeing the library as a social setting rather than an opportunity to engage with literacy.
The aim was to introduce new activities that would engage pupils and effectively demonstrate literacy wasn’t all about books. In addition, library staff were keen to create a cross-curricular task which promoted digital storytelling while reflecting Curriculum for Excellence outcomes. Importantly, the unit was to engage all pupils no matter what their ability.
With resources and training provided by the Scottish Book Trust, pupils watched various trailers and discussed their merits before going on to make their own. Feedback has shown pupil engagement has improved, with pupils now looking forward to library visits. Borrowing figures also increased, specifically books from which pupils had made book trailers. Most importantly it has allowed pupils to showcase their technical skills and encouraged them to see how technology and literacy work together.
Following feedback from both pupils and teachers, the project now includes peer-to-peer reviews and a competition where teaching staff vote for their favourite book trailer.
Case Study 2:
In this case study the local public library helped school pupils produce their very own books. After going to see author Chris Riddell and presenting him with drawings, pupils in P5 were inspired to design and create their own picture books for their P2 buddy classes.
Keen to increase parental involvement, the school invited parents to workshops to help pupils illustrate their books and discuss their favourite Scots words. Six weeks later the finished books were sent to the publisher.
The children organised a book launch which was held at the local public library. They wrote letters to parents, friends of the school and council members, inviting them along to the event. Social media was also used throughout the whole process – at first to keep parents informed of progress and then to promote the books.
The young people all achieved their target of being published authors, while parents were actively involved in their child’s learning. Staff had also effectively used social media effectively to promote the work going on in school.
At the start and end of the project children were asked how many had library cards and if they used the local library. Results have shown increased membership in every class in school. Staff are keen to continue developing the links made with the library during the project and use the expertise of library staff to support learners.
Working with colleagues across three schools is a prime example of how library staff can enhance partnership working. Inspired by National Poetry Day, they teamed up with colleagues in three cluster schools to develop a new poetry and art project.
Local authority staff, including the Cultural Development Manager and staff from the Education Resource Service, organised funding for all schools in the authority to have a set of National Poetry Day postcards from the Scottish Poetry Library.
Library staff in a local secondary school then helped to develop a project where pupils in both primary and secondary schools were invited to create poetry and art for display in local libraries.
Funding was provided for both a professional writer and artist to visit schools to help pupils find their inspiration and produce their work. The results were well received and led to pupil’s work being exhibited in three local libraries over several weeks, where both children’s families and members of the public could view the poems.
Library staff then organised an additional task where pupils had to choose and research famous Scots before the school as a whole voted for their favourite. This led to the council’s corporate training and conference centre being named after famous Scots chosen by each secondary school.
The outcome was increased pupil confidence in both their writing and artistic skills as well as their research and teambuilding skills. The project is now in its second year and is hoped will become an annual event.
Case Study 1:
In this example library staff are a key factor in the day-to-day running of a school’s Nurture Programme, helping to support emotionally vulnerable young people.
The staff were initially trained alongside school colleagues in the principles of Nurture because of the central role they played in school life. This ensured consistency and allowed library staff to provide more effective assistance to Support for Learning staff.
Library staff now assist in the running and organization of the Nurture Rooms and are consulted on all decisions which impact on how the area is used. They continually liaise with school staff on the best ways to support the most vulnerable pupils on an on-going basis.
Case Study 2:
Identifying an increasing need for self-help resources led to one school library developing its own wellbeing, equality and inclusion project. By creating a ‘Shelf Help’ collection library staff effectively catered for the needs of pupils.
The collection included books, leaflets and wallet cards on a large variety of relevant topics including bereavement & grief, bullying, gender & sexuality, anxiety, depression and mental health.
Information was sourced from a wide range of contributors including the local NHS Health Board, charities, school councillor, the local public library and other school library staff (both locally and through the School Library Network).
Although there is no fiction in the Shelf Help section, the library has a range of teen fiction on a variety of issues and these are moved over and displayed in the Shelf Help section to fit in with changing displays throughout the year. The library used the Scottish Book Trust reading list as a starting point to ensure the books used were relevant. The most recent display combination was a display of romance fiction combined with contraception and sexual health.
Now staff are looking to further promote the area to young people, parents and staff – encouraging the school councillor and Guidance staff in particular to promote the section and its resources. They also intend to liaise with the school Health & Wellbeing working group.
Developing a ‘world of work’ experience led to one school library helping pupils prepare for life outside school and navigate digital technologies.
The library created role profiles, provided application forms and conducted interviews to provide young people with valuable and relevant experiences. Throughout the project there was also opportunities for pupils to undertake voluntary roles in the library.
Library staff worked closely with school colleagues to develop learning activities and attended college and university open days with both pupils and staff. In addition, they attend parents’ evenings to support families in gaining an understanding of the Careers Library resources and services.
As a result of the project pupil’s created high quality applications for work and further study and enhanced their digital and information literacy skills in the process.
Libraries are already known as centres of digital innovation, being well placed to prepare young people for life in the future workplace. Looking ahead, library staff are now focusing on evolving digital learning activities to reflect the ever-changing needs of the future workforce.