Let’s Talk Libraries: Bishop Gilpin C of E Primary School – Sally Le Marquand
Sally LeMarquand has been the Librarian at Bishop Gilpin C of E Primary School for just under 5 years, overseeing the whole management of the school library and Reading for Pleasure Programme (RfPP). Sally has enjoyed not only the support she receives from the Accessit Library team but also how the integration of digital resources, such as ebooks, allowed students to continue to use the library and its resources throughout the 2020 lockdown.
- Effective support
- Digital resources
- Student autonomy
- Visual search
- Customisable Web App
Accessit Library has really enabled us to have a central hub for library information and reading for pleasure, which has been crucial when trying to support all our parents and staff. I just need to make sure I let them know about it more often!
After continuous negative experiences with their previous library management system (LMS), Sally and Bishop Gilpin switched to Accessit Library in July of 2020.
Our previous LMS was not interactive enough and just didn’t support what we were doing in school. We also had continuous compatibility problems when our LMS tried to host ebooks. This seemed to go on for ages and just wasn’t sorted out for several weeks, so I couldn’t promote ebooks to our children. I heard about Accessit Library from another librarian who found Accessit Library great at promoting books and reading and compatibility issues didn’t seem to be a problem – so when Covid hit this seemed to a time to switch.
I was quite apprehensive at first, because my experience with our previous LMS was so bad, but I found the process very straightforward and stress free. When Accessit said they would follow something up, they followed through without me having to chase.
I have found the support of the Accessit Library team really helpful and as many of the employees have been involved in libraries or have been librarians, they understand what librarians need. Every time I have asked something they have got back to me within 24 hours. I’ve had some really helpful correspondence with a couple of their guys, like Dominic, who has sorted out our remote access, which is brilliant.
Accessit Library makes my life so much easier and absolutely underpins everything I try to do. I now have a reading on-line presence in place to keep up to date and upload new items and news. And if I have a problem, I have confidence that the problem will be addressed quickly. There is simply no comparison between Accessit Library and our previous LMS.
Sally and Bishop Gilpin’s decision to switch to Accessit Library was made during the first Covid lockdown in 2020, but before the switch could be completed, the Accessit Library Web App was able to keep things ticking along during this time, allowing Sally to run a book club using e-Books and recommended reads over the summer holidays. This meant that Accessit was fully up and running for when the children returned in September.
Because Accessit Library has an interactive online presence, I was able to constantly update the padlets on it with recommended reads, quizzes, etc., which the children could access from home during the holidays. We would not have been able to do this with our previous LMS. Plus, we could encourage eBooks and audiobooks from our own e-platform and the public library platforms. I could also put on a lot of promotional reads and diverse websites as well. The dashboard enables me to promote reading in a much more cohesive way, and importantly, in a one-hub place.
I was worried initially that the interface might be too advanced for a primary school, but that has not been the case. In fact, what I’ve found is that Accessit Library can support the whole school community – particularly parents. The Accessit Web App is a centralized place for everyone: children, parents – everything. It is a still place in a spinning world if you like.
Before Accessit Library, we had to rely on emailing links to parents and staff which was time consuming, and the word about what’s on offer at the library got lost. Accessit Library has really supported our school by having a main dashboard that has information books relating to curriculum topics, other non-fiction books, and fiction books in the library. The dashboard also supports staff with tabs for teaching resources including PSHE and well-being books. Parents can also find some helpful and informative websites to check out, in a familiar place and therefore they don’t have to keep searching for that email with the link.
Not only has the Accessit Web App become an important tool for parents and the wider community at Bishop Gilpin, but Sally has noticed a key shift in student engagement too, as they continue to familiarise themselves with the Web App and use it in a way that benefits their library experience.
I think the main change is that children can change books themselves easily and they can use the Accessit Library interface to look at the recommended reads and other high-lighted items. Using technology is what children do, so it’s really powerful for them to visually see it like that.
The children love looking at the Web App and they love the reserve function and the circulation. I encourage them all to do that because I want them all to learn how to issue and return books, as well as view their account to see what they have on loan. Accessit also allows us to print some useful data reports if required as evidence for library use.
I train my Year 4 pupil librarians how to use Accessit Library and they all get it. Once they know how to do it properly, they love doing it!
While Accessit Library has become a whole-school resource, Sally and the library itself has also evolved to a stage where Bishop Gilpin now has a complete RfPP available to support all readers and learners at any level.
It’s been an organic journey as this school library has evolved, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it because I feel having a fully functioning library supported by a smart LMS are fundamentally important. Every child deserves to have access to a well-managed school library and a librarian. We now have a clearer idea what kind of readers we want our children to be at the end of year 6 before they embark on their secondary school experience. The RfPP and the children’s interaction with the library is central to enhancing their positive reading identities, enabling them all to see themselves as readers.
The Reading for Pleasure Programme (RfPP)
Children need a lot of support when choosing books, so that they can build their confidence with book choice over time. The children are supported in the RfPP through their interaction with the library and their teachers. Once they come off the reading scheme mostly at year 3, and they are expected to find books for themselves, children can lose their reading motivation and momentum and fall right back with their reading. When that happens it’s very difficult to get them back up. When the children move up to Key Stage 2, that’s when they really need encouragement and book talk to sustain their reading motivation.
We need to engage them and understand their reading preferences. So, the teachers in year 3, and with my support, really get to know what each and every single child likes to read. I talk to them and have a constant conversation with them about reading, what they’re reading, and what they like and don’t like.
The RfPP means that they have reading every single day in the morning without interruption – which is an absolute must. At this time, teachers will have everyone in class, including themselves, reading for pleasure and this is the time for teachers to spot those children that are not engaged and step in. Each class in KS2 also have a library slot where groups of children will come down and change their books, giving priority to those children who are not engaged and need more support.
I think we’ve done a lot to change some of the children’s negative attitudes to reading and establish positive reading identities, but before we move forwards, I think it’s good to embed it down. We can then see which bits really need tweaking and what works and what doesn’t. At the moment, I’m just taking stock and trying to measure its impact.
We are very good at supporting children with their books now, but we are also looking at reading fluency and if children are actually reading with success. There’s more that we can do to make sure they continue their reading journey and not just forget about reading for pleasure once they’ve learned the skill to read. By the end of year 6, we want them to choose to read on their own, having acquired the skills and confidence to do that.
My job is to get to know every single child, understand what it is that they like to read, and then suggest a book that’s right for them. Then, we need to empower children to do that on their own. My main mission has been to try to change the whole culture of reading at the school, and that takes a long time – but it’s definitely paying dividends now!
The next phase of engagement using Accessit will to be support children with their research skills by incorporating FOSIL, which is a skills framework that helps children learn by finding out information for themselves.
Sally will point her students towards the bookshelves throughout the Reading for Pleasure Programme, and the Accessit Library Web App is another key reference point where children, staff and parents can access an extensive range of books, information and resources.
You need an online interface to refer children and parents to go to. Children know the Accessit Web App dashboard very well and they like to look at the front page of the dashboard. They’ve got quizzes and other useful information on there, which encourages them.
I steer children towards the Accessit Library Web App so that they can refer to it at home too, and they can point to it with their parents. When parents email me, I can say, “if you look at the library dashboard, maybe this book will be suitable…” Accessit Library has really enabled us to have a central hub for library information and reading for pleasure, which has been crucial when trying to support all our parents and staff. I just need to make sure I let them know about it more often!
I use and high-light the Visual Search tab on the dashboard to staff so they can see books arranged in curriculum topics. I try to put up news items that reflect days we are organising in school, for example Science week, World Book Day, International Women’s Day, Rainbow Day etc. I’ve tagged all of our stock: non-fiction, fiction, reference, diversity & inclusion, and so on. Every single book has a genre tag, and when you click on a genre tab, all the books under that genre come up beautifully. Both the staff and children can also use the padlets on the Web App dashboard, by uploading their own books and commenting on them, as well as commenting on my suggestions. This was really helpful when trying to galvanize reading for the book club during lock down.
It is vitally important to have a LMS that supports what you are trying to achieve in terms of reading in the library and the wider school community. I am really pleased that we switched to Accessit. It has not disappointed or let us down and their technical support is very professional and responsive.