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Unpacking the DfE Reading Framework for School Librarians

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Every once in a while something really important appears for school librarians which creates the link they need in the educational process. This happened recently when Cathi Woods a School Librarian at Farnborough Hill School, posted the Government's updated Reading Framework on the SLN (School Library Network) which you can read for yourself here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-reading-framework-teaching-the-foundations-of-literacy.


This document is certainly something that school librarians should be reading and thinking about. Highlighting how they can support, or already support reading within their schools. Not only are there 25 mentions of libraries but there are also several places where school librarians can certainly connect their expertise.


I was delighted when Cathi agreed to write this blog post with me as her expertise as a school librarian currently based in a school will enable us to write this post with some current examples of how school librarians are already making a difference in reading within schools.


After writing this blog Cathi and I decided to run a webinar. More information can be found here https://www.elizabethahutchinson.com/product-page/unpacking-the-dfe-reading-framework-webinar


Cathi - Finally, this is our Reading Framework 2.0 for School Librarians…

When I first noticed that the Reading Framework had been issued my first thought was that this didn’t concern me… it was an English thing. That lasted about a millisecond and reading it tentatively I was getting more disappointed with the lack of agency for School Librarians. I did that old trick, Ctrl F, I looked for ‘Librarian’ (6 mentions), ‘School Librarian’ (2 – Pg 96 and page 103), ‘School Library’ (6) etc. I was quite shocked that in a document of 176 pages, there were so few mentions.


Pg 96 – “In terms of influencing pupils’ reading, teachers are the best promoters. Pupils are willing to trust the judgement of a teacher who says, ‘I think you’ll really enjoy this one,’ not least because they feel that the teacher knows them well enough to care about their likes and dislikes. In secondary schools, a school librarian may be best placed to play the role of influencer. But to play this role effectively, teachers and librarians need to know the books that their pupils will enjoy and not just those that they would like them to read.” In terms of influencing pupils… great I thought this is where school librarians get hyped up. Nope. We get the word ‘may’ after our profession. Hmm.


It is disappointing that teachers are the ones expected to be the influencer in Primary schools. There are such humans as Primary School Librarians, we are not limited to senior schools. When do teachers have the time to read all the books on top of everything else that they do? It is a teacher’s job to teach them to read. It is a librarian's job to give them the freedom of books. It did feel like a wet paper towel moment.


My second thought was #IsItOK that prison libraries are statutory in law but that school libraries are not. Ok, I have been watching The Last Leg recently, but I did hear Adam Hill’s voice in my head saying ‘No, it is not OK!’, and maybe a comment or two from Josh Widdicombe about ‘education over reformation’ and Alex Brooker nailing it with ‘locking the door after the horse had bolted!’


After being contacted by Elizabeth I realised that we had something important to share about this framework so here goes.


If you just want a quick overview check out our 8 suggestions for school librarians infographic.

8 suggestions for school librarians - reading framework
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Introduction to the DfE Reading Framework

We want to make this a positive blog but we also want to highlight the reasons why writing this is so important. Let’s start with who this document has been released for…


This guidance is for:

  • teachers

  • school leaders

  • reading and literacy leads

  • governing bodies

  • initial teacher training partnerships

  • specialist provision

Where are the school librarians here? Possibly Reading and Literacy Leads? Who knows…


The mention of school librarians is scarce, to say the least. One of these is within the references and the other relates to children's librarians (p33)… do they mean school librarians or public children’s librarians? We are not sure.


It goes on to say “Secondary schools have additional timetabling challenges, but book club (or library time) should happen at least fortnightly with an adult (or adults), either a librarian or another adult with a particular interest in reading” (p96). Who calls library lessons, ‘book club’ or library time in secondary schools? There is a significant difference between the two in our book (sorry, not sorry for the pun!).


The last mention of the librarian comes on page 103 “This relies on scheduling library time for every class, led by an appropriately trained adult. This [making sure every Pupil has a book with them] may be the school librarian, form tutor or other adults with a particular interest in reading”. OK, at least the school librarian is mentioned here alongside “a particular interest in reading”. We did say we would keep this positive so here we go…


Highlighting a school librarian's value

How do you tackle a large document like this and make it useable for school librarians to highlight their value? To start with we feel it is important to mention that the role of the school librarian is not in teaching children to read, but they certainly have a role to play in ensuring there is engagement in reading throughout the school. This can be in reading for pleasure but also in reading for learning.




The important bits for school librarians

The DfE Reading Framework is a large document so we thought it might be helpful if we went through it starting with every mention of the word 'library' and giving some suggestions as to how the school librarian can support this area so look out for practical points. As we have already said there are 25 mentions of the word ‘library’ so we have decided to narrow it down to the top 8. If you want to see all 25 go onto the document and use control F ‘Library’ and you can read them all.


Number 1 - Research and connections to other services


We do like the link to all the research. Especially from the National Literacy Trust and Teresa Cremin, both big supporters of school libraries.


Page 10 - "Public libraries can offer support, both in terms of book provision and specialist knowledge, through Libraries Connected and the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians. For more information about how School Library Services can help schools, and to be connected to an SLS which could support you, visit www.sls-uk.org/"


The mention of public libraries, ASCEL and SLS-UK as services that support reading is important as these organisations also link up with school librarians who are often working on their own. We do need to point out that there are two really important organisations that have been missed in this framework which are the SLA (School Library Association) and CILIP SLG (School Library Group). Both of these organisations offer support and training for school librarians across the country and we feel really should have been mentioned in this document.


The School Library Association states that “The SLA works towards all schools in the UK having their own (or shared) staffed library to help all children and young people fulfil their potential. School staff and children should have access to a wide and varied range of resources and have the support of an expert guide in reading, research, media and information literacy. We provide training and access to resources to support the running of school libraries and the continuing development of all staff, as well as advocating for and allowing other educational staff to maximise their understanding and use of school libraries.” Useful resources are available from SLA either through their CPD Library (sla.org.uk) or their shop Our Products (sla.org.uk)


CILIP SLG state “SLG campaigns in support of school libraries, school librarians and Schools Library Services (SLSs). SLG offers help, support and advice to members and we support professional registration so that school librarians can achieve Certification and Chartership.SLG holds a conference every two years which provides a forum for discussion and debate on current issues in school librarianship.SLG holds regular webinars and training courses on a wide range of topics concerned with school librarianship. SLG publishes the journal School Libraries in View (SLiV), circulates a monthly e-newsletter to members, and produces regular Key Issues pamphlets to support all those working in schools. SLG publishes books such as CILIP Guidelines for Secondary School Libraries and Creating a School Library with Impact


Practical Point


Make sure you are up to date with the latest research around reading for pleasure and reading for learning. Go from the list in this document and also check out what the SLA and CILIP SLG are pointing to. You could always take a look at Elizabeth’s research page on her website as a starting point.


Many school librarians already work closely with their public library or SLS so if you are you should definitely highlight that you are doing this and link to this document.

Joining the SLN (School Librarian Network) or contacting your local SLA Branch or joining CILIP SLG as these are a huge benefit to your CPD as librarians. It is often a lonely role within the school and a grey area when it comes to definition… not quite Teaching Staff and yet more than Support Staff as we are more of a pupil-facing role.


Subscribing to, and reading, journals such as the SLA’s TSL (The School Librarian), CILIP’s Information Professional, or the Youth Library Review, all count as CPD. A vast array of school library-related topics or guides emerge in these publications and can help motivate new initiatives.



We’d also like to give a shout-out to Edinburgh City Council’s publication called Teen Titles Teen Titles – The City of Edinburgh Council. First News and The Week Junior also have a book review section supplied by its readers.


Number 2 - Starting Young


Page 12 - "All talk is useful, especially when directed to the child specifically. For instance, children expand their language and vocabulary when they listen to or join in with a story or rhymes in a well-scripted children’s television programme or at a library ‘Rhyme time’, but an adult talking about it with them adds benefits. However, talking about books brings particular advantages."


Nurturing language skills and encouraging bonding with the written word from an early age is crucial. School librarians start working with the youngest of pupils so if there is a link to the public library they will already know about the children who have attended ‘Baby Bounce’ and ‘Rhyme time’ and can continue this. For any child that has not had this experience, the school librarian is able to bring these sessions into the school. Allowing children to talk about books is part of the librarian's role. Engaging and enhancing the child’s ability to understand the story long before they can read it themselves.


As Micheal Rosen says “Reading for Pleasure works because books work. Books work because they invite interpretation = the play of speculation, reflection, prediction, affirmation, surprise, deduction, analysis, wonder, empathy, fear, hope, horror, sensuality, conceptual thinking, memory...and more.” Michael Rosen Blog


It is never too young for children to start engaging with reading. Children who arrive at school and have accessed their public library are further ahead than those who don’t. National Literacy Trust.


In our local areas did you know Hampshire Registration Service also gives Library Cards to every child when they are registered and in Guernsey, the health visitors link with the public library. Starting the journey with books is never too early so check out what is available in your area.


Practical Point


Primary

School Librarians often run story sessions with younger children when they come into the school library for book exchange. This is an important opportunity to talk about the story through discussions and group work. It can be a very short session or longer depending on the time.


Encouraging your pupils in collaboration with the public library to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge is not only an important way to keep your children reading throughout the summer but also a great link between primary and secondary.


Secondary

Is your school near any of your feeder schools? Why not try a collaboration with your local primary schools?

  • Ask your Year 7’s at the end of their first year to visit their primary school to give book talks to the Year 6’s that will be transitioning to Senior school.

  • Ask your Year 8 to work on a list of books that they wish they had read before coming to senior school.

Back to the summer reading challenge; does your local library have a summer reading challenge that your Year 9/10 can volunteer at? Does your school offer DofE as part of the co-curricular activities, if so, maybe volunteering in the school library or the public library could be considered.


Parents

As a parent looking at schools for your children for the first time, always ask about the school library provision. Ask if they have a dedicated trained professional aka a School Librarian. Ask how many books the library has and what percentage is replaced each year. Check the school’s website; does the library get a mention or its own library pages on the website? Is there a reading scheme? What does that look like in terms of percentage per week of school time?


Take a look at this leaflet produced by CILIP SLG for more ideas and questions.


Number 3 - Book Corners


Page 39 - "Ideally, every book corner should be a mini library, a place for children to browse the best books, revisit the ones that the teacher has read to them, and borrow books to read or retell at home. Every child should be able to spend time in their book corner. Children will want to share books with others, especially if they are ‘books in common’ that they know their friends have heard before. They will also be interested to look at books which feature well-known fictional characters or are new and tempting."


We think classroom libraries are important but can often be forgotten spaces unless the teachers themselves are proactive in ensuring the books are well looked after and renewed regularly. Time and budget often prevent this from happening. Why should the teacher have to buy books for their classroom? The link to the school library and librarian is important here.


Practical point


For Early Years Settings, Book Corners use props or puppets to tell stories, or even have a puppet theatre or flannel board for the little ones to tell their own stories. It is never too early to introduce poetry or even Shakespeare. A Midsummer Night’s Dream captures everyone’s fantastical imagination. Michael Rosen once wrote that “Trial and error without fear of failure - it's a crucial part of reading and education as a whole” (Michael Rosen Blog 2018). Remembering that the goal is to ignite curiosity and appreciation for storytelling, language and creativity from a young age.


Book corners are practical but cosy. Bean bags… a contentious item of Library furniture. Some love them, mainly the pupils. Some loathe them, mainly the Librarians/Teachers and cleaners who have to clean up the rogue beans when some eager child has taken a running jump onto the bean bag and it has burst (we have all bean there - pun intended!).


However, children need some sort of furniture on which to be comfortable enough to read. Someone once said that it does not matter if a child is not sitting properly on a chair if they are reading, the point is that they are reading, and we should take the small victories.


Number 4 - The School Library


Page 92 - "The school’s central library Any bookshop or public library with a large children’s section will organise its stock into broad age-range categories, for example:

• picture books for toddlers and young children

• stories for younger readers and older readers

• poetry for younger and older readers

• non-fiction for younger and older readers.

A school’s library is, in effect, its main bookshop. Categories for organising a school library’s stock might include:

• core literature by year group (multiple copies for lessons)

• non-fiction by subject and year group where books support the curriculum

• picture books for younger readers

• picture books and graphic novels for older readers

• poetry books; younger readers; older readers

• very short page-turners (can be read by young readers or older readers who need extra practice)

• short page-turners (can be read by young readers or older readers who need extra practice)

• sets of long page-turners (can be read by young, advanced readers or older readers)

• short ‘hi-lo’ non-fiction (can be read by young readers or older readers who need extra practice)

• longer hi-lo fiction (can be read by young, advanced readers or older readers)

Fiction and poetry might be ordered alphabetically in broad age-ranges (By surname of the author or poet). Teachers might (but School Librarians definitely can) define the ages of ‘younger’ and ‘older’ readers."


It is really difficult not to get frustrated by this section. Everything that is mentioned above is something that school librarians already do. Librarians organise the stock in the school library so it is easily found. The school librarian knows and understands the needs of the pupils in their school and in working alongside their teaching staff know if there are any special needs for specific pupils and are able to cater for all.


We can’t believe that on top of everything else, a teacher is required to do within their school day and beyond, they are expected to take on the responsibility for reading or skimming and scanning fiction and non-fiction books in order to “define the ages of ‘younger’ and ‘older’ readers! A qualified School Librarian is the expert in the room when it comes to age definition and book recommendations. It is the Librarian’s job to know these things by definition.


School Libraries/book shops? Whilst we like the idea of having our own personal Waterstones within the school, we cannot see this as a practical idea. Space and stock are two reasons for this. In a bookshop, there is a limited amount of space given over to each genre. In a bookshop, there are usually only a few titles but many copies stacked on tables. A school library may not have the budget or space for several copies of the same book. “Book shops will organise their stock into broad age-range categoriesThis is what school libraries already do…

Practical Point


One of the main roles of a school librarian is to manage the stock. This includes budgeting, ordering, and processing new stock. Taking into account the diverse needs of their own school and pupils.


School Librarians need to be aware of current trends such as book banning, AI literacy, Inquiry learning and even creating policies. It is important to bear in mind when creating a collection for your school library it is far more than just looking like a ‘book shop’.


Number 5 - Strategies for reading via the school library and librarian


Page 94 - "Core strategies to encourage sustained, voluntary reading include:

• adults reading aloud regularly, including in class or form time

• informal book talk, including recommendations from peers and adults

• encouraging library use, including the local public library

• Provide time to read

• sociable reading environments, reading together and sharing books"


Page 94 is the closest this document gets to highlighting the important role of the school librarian. We love to hear that schools are being encouraged to use their social reading environments aka their school library, create informal book talks aka book clubs run by school librarians and that schools are being “told to provide time to read” This should be across the whole curriculum.


One of the 5 core instructional activities of the school librarian is Literacy and reading promotion. The IFLA School Library Guidelines states “A school library supports student literacy and promotes reading. Research shows that there is a direct link between reading level and learning results, and that access to reading materials is a key factor in developing enthusiastic and skilled readers (Krashen, 2004). School librarians should be pragmatic and flexible in their approach when providing reading material to users, supporting the individual preferences of readers, and acknowledging their individual rights to choose what they want to read. Students who are given the opportunity to select their own reading show improved test scores over time”. (p39). Below are some ideas about how school librarians support strategies for reading.


Practical Point


DEAR Drop Everything and Read at least twice per half term. Think of it like a fire alarm test… only more fun! For those pupils who maybe struggled to read maybe a twist on this is read aloud for 15 mins rather than silently.


Every term should have a reading week whereby there is no homework or prep given, just time to read. (Cathi’s book lending has always gone up in advance of this, however, the overdue’s are always higher three weeks later!)


Reading/book clubs are always a good idea, these do however attract those who are already reading. An alternative to this is to have a Reading Aloud Club at lunchtime or a Breakfast reading club. If you are not okay with reading aloud then you cannot go wrong with an audio book. See more later about reading aloud.


Make a reading book in their bag as part of the equipment rules.


Encouraging everyone (teachers, SLT and support staff as well as pupils) in the school to become members of the local public library.


Providing a place to read. Make it comfortable, though you may not be able to provide space for a whole class at least have cushions and a carpet to read on. Make the space sacrosanct as reading for pleasure.


Have a staff book club, make it part of the school well-being package. Once a month or half term reading the same book. Ensure that the book has an audio version available for teachers to read/listen to on their car journeys to school. Make time for a catch-up after school before the end of the term.


Controversial idea time… have a parent book club. Based on the similar idea above.

Invite each form to give book recommendations either electronically and display them on your Library website pages or physically by putting them on display boards.


You can also encourage book reviews using your online database. One of the squares on Cathi's Bingo Card (see below) is to write a book review or three. If online is not possible then purchase the plastic shelf edge review holders like the ones in Waterstones (see bookshop ideas are integrated into school libraries when appropriate) and encouraging handwritten reviews.


Having a desktop book for book reviews and another book for a wishlist


Number 6 - Library Lessons / across the curriculum


Page 95 - "Book club is a time to recommend books to pupils for class reading and reading at home. In a primary school, this might be organised at the end of storytime, replace story time, during English lessons or be an additional opportunity to share favourite books. In a secondary school, a book club might be called library time and happen in a library session. Making tempting books available is important for all pupils, but especially for those who have limited or no access to books at home…." Said Every Librarian Ever!


Page 96 - "Secondary schools have additional timetabling challenges, but book club (or library time) should happen at least fortnightly with an adult (or adults), either a Qualified Full-time School librarian or another adult with a particular interest in reading. Leaders should not expect this to take place in the time allocated in the curriculum to English. The adult (Let’s call this adult, the School Librarian!) will be best placed to encourage pupils to choose books they are interested in and make sure that they always have something engaging to read in tutorial time. In this way, pupils can be actively encouraged to put in the reading miles and develop more positive attitudes to, and pleasure in, reading"


School Librarians should at a minimum be accessing KS3 at least once a week, if not once a fortnight. We realise that this may not actually be practical in many schools with a lone librarian and more than 100 pupils per year group as there is only a finite number of hours in the school day and timetabling is a very complex job. We do not believe that it should always come out of English Lesson time. Reading is cross-curricula so engaging with all subjects is important.


Practical Points


For Year 7 there is the obvious Library Induction stage. Why not get them earlier though? Know who your Year 6 transition cohort is going to be and purchase them the same book each for them to read over the summer and when they get to school, they will all have one thing in common and can talk to each other about. On the plus side, every child will own at least one book. Base three or four lessons around the book. Summer Reading Challenge at the local public Libraries run by the Reading Agency is a great place to start.


If a child has not read the book over the summer this may be for a variety of reasons, and school librarians may pick up early signs of reading difficulties. Be prepared to have your SENCO on hand to capture these children and work with them separately.


For Years 8/9 maybe use a variety of different lessons and teach accordingly. Say Music and teaching them how to use a music library works? History and going on a History Quest. Geography and having a scavenger hunt around the Library. Art and discovering how AI Art is being developed and the pros and cons of this. The options are endless. Children thrive on getting out of the classroom and the Library is a special place to visit. Teachers need to bear in mind that Library Staff understand their stock and (if given the chance) will have exactly what is needed to help teach any topic. Remember a Librarian may not have all the answers but we do know where to find them!


For those schools that do not have AR as their reading scheme an easy-to-use idea is to have a Book Bingo card for every KS3 pupil.

Book Bingo pdf
.pdf
Download PDF • 183KB

Instead of writing titles on the card though use a variety of genres or reading challenges as you may not have the stock to cope with everyone vying for the same titles. Cathi created one several years ago and it has proven to be a game changer to many pupils who have read outside their comfort zones. Cathi does this for both Years 7&8 and this year Year 8 asked if she could create one for Year 9.


Year 8 Book Bingo PDF
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Download PDF • 180KB


Page 103 - "Given that form tutors in secondary schools are unlikely to have a variety of books in their own classrooms, schools should ensure that pupils have a book with them throughout the day, chosen in library time (or book club). This relies on scheduling library time for every class, led by an appropriately trained adult. This may be the school librarian, form tutor or other adult with a particular interest in reading".

This paragraph on Page 103 is the best support that the Government has given for having a qualified Librarian and a fully stocked Library in every school. It is important to understand that library time can cover many things from reading for pleasure to linking with curriculum projects. Library time should not sit outside the curriculum but at the heart of it.


The Great School Libraries Campaign highlighted in March 2023 that “This is supported by the fact that only 3% of primary school respondents report that they deliver regular timetabled research lessons.”


Practical Points


Reading in Assembly. The same book but whomever is taking assembly should read for 5 minutes from the book.


Reading in Form time. Break up a book into five-minute chunks to read and send the page numbers and dates electronically to all the form tutors along with one copy per tutor. A different book for each year group or even a different book for each tutor group. Depends on how much work this takes but it does get easier over time.


Create a QR Code trail around your school and grounds. Encourage departments to create a lesson using the QR codes. Each QR code could be a piece of information that when joined up completes the lesson. Or a scavenger hunt on each QR code. When they are not in use by a department then the QR code reverts back to a story or poetry trail, different poems/ stories for different times of the year.


Number 7 - The School Library


Page 126 - "make sure pupils have access to engaging texts by developing links with organisations such as school and public library services, reading charities and others"


In order to make sure your pupils have access to engaging texts every school needs a school library and a qualified librarian. Links to other organisations can then be organised via the school library.


Practical Point


Have a tea party for the Heads of Department. Nothing is more motivating than cake. However, choose your moment. Beginnings and endings of years are the busiest and you will not get far. Choose a sedate but poignant moment, just before or just after world book day, when reading importance is at its height. Ask them to eat cake and think about what their department does that includes the Library. Don’t name and shame departments though, come to them with solutions and not highlight the problems. If the teachers are not forthcoming with what they do in the curriculum, ask the pupils. They will know and tell you all about it, in detail sometimes. From this, you can do a bit of research and look at your stock to see if there is anything that you have that supports their teaching.


Displays are often a way to highlight links between books and services or charities. Pinterest is full of ideas and many Librarians post pics of their displays on Facebook or Instagram. Why reinvent the wheel?


Why not invite a speaker once a term/half term to talk about anything and everything? They do not have to cost the earth to do this. Explain to charities that you would like them to come along and highlight what they do. Explain to local companies that you would love for them to explain how to get into certain careers. Explain to local Further Education facilities in your area that you would like someone to come along and talk about Sixth Form or University life. Use your old cohort, teaching staff (and their extended family) or parents of pupils to come and have a chat with them about something important in their life. Ask the Local Police, Fire or Hospital to send along a speaker about their careers. Do you have a local sportsperson done good? Animals always go down well, but remember a risk assessment is always needed.


Think outside the box when it comes to co-curricular. Books about magic tricks can lead to a magic club, be prepared for juggling balls or disappearing tricks being demonstrated over and over again. Or a Rubiks Cube club held in the Library, inviting children with autism to take part too. Invite the UK Rubiks Cube Association to come to your school and run a demonstration. Be aware that this visit will never be long enough for your budding Rubiks Cube enthusiasts.


Lego Clubs are always popular and there are lots of books that have Lego characters and places to build. Ask your PTA if they can donate money towards a few building sets.


Canva Club, getting the artistic and the not-so-artistic but enthusiastic together and creating posters, could even lead to a pupil-led school magazine.


One year, after receiving a huge donation of wool and not knowing what to do with it, one of the pupils showed Cathi how to make pom poms using cardboard and wool. The idea was born to make the largest pom pom that we could… Everyone took turns at break and lunch to wind wool around two huge pieces of card shaped like a doughnut. This went on for a whole term and the result was amazing and hung up in the library. Lots of smaller pom poms joined it and this helped create an atmosphere of togetherness and collaboration.

Every year from October Half term the books that are removed from the shelves after the big summer weed (yes school librarians do have to manage their stock in order to keep it up to date which does mean removing and sometimes recycling old stock. This happens because school libraries are not archives and only have finite space) have their covers torn from them and then folded into hedgehogs and Christmas trees. Our school holds an annual Christmas Fayre and the Pupil Librarians sell them to make money for Book Aid each year. You will find that it is a lot of KS3 that want to fold books but KS4 have been known to pop in and join in out of nostalgia.


There is many a time that I have had to defend tearing up recycling old books and will often find that the books are being read as they are folded. There was once an old Asterix book that had seen better days that was turned into a Christmas Tree. It was sold to a young lad who then unfurled all the pages in front of us to read the book…


Number 8 - Headteacher and the school librarian


Under the Headteachers section (Page 126) they state that "Headteachers are ultimately responsible for building the reading culture in their school and ensuring that the teaching of reading is as effective as possible. In secondary schools, reading may be led by another senior leader, preferably a deputy headteacher, but oversight and overall responsibility remain with the headteacher."


The role of headteachers in building a reading culture and ensuring effective reading instruction in schools is paramount. Having a culture of visionary Leadership and high expectations of reading motivation (not necessarily high expectations of good results though those will come with time and infusion of expertise) influences and sets the tone for the whole school. When headteachers prioritise the reading culture, it sends a clear message that reading is valued and essential. This then leads to a whole school approach with a coordinated effort and integration within the curriculum, events, and extracurricular activities.


Headteachers need to be looking at the long game when it comes to budgets and allocating resources. A great school supports reading initiatives, ensuring adequate training for teachers supplied by the School Librarian (as we are the book/resources experts) and access to quality reading materials in the form of a dedicated area for reading, aka the School Library.


Headteachers need to be the biggest supporters of school libraries and ensure that they are line managed by a member of SLT responsible for teaching and learning. This will ensure that the whole school knows how important the school library is and will ensure the library is part of the learning process.


Ultimately it is the Headteachers that are accountable for the overall performance of the school. We all know that reading proficiency significantly impacts pupils' academic achievements, therefore, building a reading culture requires collaboration among various stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and community members. Headteachers can facilitate effective communication and partnerships to strengthen the reading culture.


By having the responsibility laying with the Headteacher ensures that reading culture aligns with the school’s broader goals and visions, preventing silos such as “Oh, don’t worry, English has got that covered!”. Reading strategies across the whole curriculum starts with a whole school policy which includes the Library and Librarian.


Practical points


Having SLT onside is half the battle. Being able to explain what you do as a school librarian is a major part of the role. Do not expect that everyone knows what your role is. We have already mentioned keeping on top of the research but advocacy is a bit part of it too. Consider giving a presentation to SLT. Yes, it is daunting but battles can be lost if you don’t show up. Having the courage to stand in front of SLT and explain the importance of a school librarian in the grand scheme of reading and literacy is huge and should not be underestimated.


Take a listen to Elizabeth’s podcast about SLT engagement for more inspiration. The benefits of a cohesive senior leadership/librarian partnership


Read and be aware of the Great School Libraries report (p11-12, 2023) which stated that “Nearly a quarter of secondary schools reported not having a designated member of library staff due to budget constraints (23%), but the majority of indicated it was because they think appropriate levels of staffing are achieved without having a designated staff member in place (57%). This is concerning as the reading and learning support which can be delivered by a trained member of library staff is clearly being underestimated” (greatschoollibraries.org.uk)


Conclusion


In Rt Hon Nick Gibb’s Foreword, he states that “reading can be the great equaliser, allowing all children access to the best of what has been thought and said. Key stage 2 is the time they can start to see themselves as readers and discover the pleasure they can get from books that they chose to read. Our schools should be places where they have the opportunity to do so and where spending time reading whole texts is prioritised over predicting and inferring from extracts. Key stage 3 is when pupils can read widely in all subjects, but especially in English from our rich literary heritage and elsewhere, without the expectation that they analyse these texts in the depth that is needed, rightly, at GCSE level”. School librarians provide this opportunity for learning across the curriculum through their expertise in enabling all pupils access to resources and expertise to access it.


In this era of rapid technological advancement, librarians are no longer gatekeepers of information but provide the gateway to reading and learning. Our continuing presence serves as a testament to the enduring significance of libraries in enriching the educational landscape and nurturing generations of informed, compassionate, and imaginative individuals who will shape future generations. It is a missed opportunity for this government to not recognise the value that school librarians bring to the learning process through this reading framework but we do have it within our power to help our schools recognise the difference we can make.


It is our hope that the practical points made in this Reading Framework 2.0 will inspire you to talk to your school leaders and take solutions not problems to their table.


If you got this far well done! Cathi and I ran a webinar about the framework. You can find out more here. https://www.elizabethahutchinson.com/product-page/unpacking-the-dfe-reading-framework-webinar


Further Information

Cathi Woods MSc. Currently a School Librarian at Farnborough Hill School in Hampshire. Having been a School Library Manager at four previous schools for several years, at the age of 42 (the meaning of life for anyone who has read Hitchhikers!), I decided to take a sabbatical and attend a Master's in Library Science at City, University of London full time for a year. Best decision I ever made! I wrote my dissertation on 'What makes a great school librarian' and interviewed the three previous years' winners of the School Librarian of the Year Award. After succeeding at University I went on to become the proud School Librarian of Farnborough Hill where I have been for the last 4 years. I have found that school librarians learn new things every day and I am one of those lucky few that gets excited on a Sunday night as to what I will do in the week ahead. I am also one of the Committee Members of the Surrey Branch of the SLA. I was a previous recipient of an award for nominating a winning Pupil Library Assistant at the PLA Awards in 2018. Currently working on Chartership. Catch up with me on LinkedIn or Twitter (X)


Find out more about Elizabeth's training and membership here:- https://www.elizabethahutchinson.com/aboutmembership

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