When your school is closed… you have to be creative



Sarah Pavey

Sarah Pavey, Independent Consultant & Trainer and joint Schools Representative for the Information Literacy Group, suggests some worthwhile tasks for information professionals in the schools sector who are now working from home.


Many of my contacts in education work in school libraries and now have to work remotely, which makes things a bit difficult. When the announcement was made that schools in the UK would close, a wealth of lists of resources were created, with altruistic intent – reading books, online databases, worksheets, educational videos, Ed Tech, etc. However, in all practicality, unless these resources are built into the infrastructure of any set work by teachers, they are unlikely to be used by students or tapped into by parents, in my opinion. At the risk of being controversial, I do believe that the vast majority of children now set free from education establishments (and so close to the Easter holidays) are going to avoid lessons if at all possible. Are the majority of parents really going to take virtual lessons seriously when the schools are likely to be shut until the autumn? If your child is in a transition year, with no exams to take, why would you? Those parents who value education just might, but I fear not the majority. Even those still attending schools are engaging in “fun activities” if news bulletins are to be believed. The initial novelty will soon wear off.

I grew up in rural Devon and this current climate reminds me so much of life there as a teenager. In those days there was no connectivity aside from the telephone, which was guarded by your parents. Boredom was an every day scourge and so you adapted to learning about the environment around you, thought of things to do, experimented, read, explored, created and, whether that shaped my future career I do not know, but I think it did develop an intrinsic motivation to discover and investigate.

Further down the line, for school children (and teachers) when the boredom really does start kicking in, as librarians we should be preparing for a different kind of learning. A project-based approach would help students develop metacognitive skills, learn about time management and hopefully arouse natural curiosity and promote intrinsic motivation to learn. Then those of us librarians who have curated the lists of resources would be able to advise teaching staff how to support a flipped learning approach with bone fide databases, articles and models of best practice.

Meanwhile, what do we do as school librarians? I thought of creating a list (yes yet another I know) but not for resources, rather jobs the librarian could be doing in preparation for the great re-opening. This list is by no means comprehensive and I am sure the CILIP School Libraries Group would be grateful for any additions. I wanted to look at different areas of the school librarian’s job and so have broken the list into sections. I am sure that many of these tasks would be equally applicable to other sectors too.

Things to do if your school library is closed

Get creative, happy reading and stay safe and virus free!

Mrs S.J. Pavey MSc FCLIP FRSA
Independent Consultant & Trainer
EPALE Ambassador

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