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School Library Association Awards Winners Announced

Winners of the prestigious SLA Awards 2022 were announced on Thursday 20 October, 2022 at a Swindon awards ceremony.

The awards recognise the country’s best school library workers, their achievements, and their work to create and drive incredibly positive contributions to learning. According to a poll of SLA members, over 3 million books were lent to pupils over the last year alone, an average of 18 books per pupil.

These annual awards recognise, celebrate and promote the vital role school libraries play within their communities. Considered the most influential accolade in the industry, the annual awards are open to all state, academy and private schools. They are designed to identify and celebrate examples of best practice across the UK.

School Library Association awardsThe judges selected one ‘Secondary School Librarian of the Year’ award winner and two joint winners in the ‘Primary School’ category. One winner was presented with the award in the ‘Enterprise’ category and one winner of the ‘Community Award’. The judges also gave a highly commended award to Hull Schools Library Service for its work with St Charles Academy.

The winners of the School Library Association 2022 awards in each category were:

School Librarian of the Year Award – Secondary School

Derek France – Preston Lodge High School, East Lothian

School Librarian of the Year Award – Primary School joint winners

Rumena Aktar – Firs Primary School, Castle Bromwich, West Midlands

Jenny Griffiths – Ravenscourt Park Preparatory School, London

Enterprise Award 

Broughton Junior School – Aylesbury, Berkshire

Community Award

Alexandra Palace Children’s Book Award Team

Hull Schools Library Service – Highly Commended for their work with St Charles Voluntary Catholic Academy, Hull, East Riding, Yorkshire

The panels of judges, comprised of SLA trustees, authors, educational leaders and former SLA award winners, evaluated the entries based on each school’s needs, potential and commitment to supporting education standards.

Judges of the ‘School Librarian of the Year’ award in the ‘Secondary School’ category presented the trophy to Derek France of Preston Lodge High School, East Lothian, because of his engagement with his school’s different departments; bringing the library into the heart of the school. Derek runs fun and engaging research lessons tailored to what each class and teacher needs. The library feels like part of the life of the school.

Headteacher, Gavin Clark said: “Derek has energised a love for literature through many clubs. He empowers the students to start their own clubs including the new feminism club in the library which was proposed by a group of students. He has also organised many online author visits. A science teacher commented that this is the first school where he has taken advantage of the library, not because of the space but because of the librarian.”

Rumena Atkar of Firs Primary School, Castle Bromwich, and Jenny Griffiths of Ravenscourt Park Preparatory School, London, were jointly awarded ‘School Librarian of the Year’ in the ‘Primary School’ category. The judges remarked that Rumena has managed to establish a whole school reading culture making a huge impact on learning. Every teacher the judges spoke to could name a child that has been positively impacted by Rumena.  She is the only librarian in the Trust and shows what a difference a librarian can make in a primary school setting.

In London, parents are choosing to send their children to Ravenscourt Park because of the library that Jenny Griffiths runs. The judges noted the constant stream of pupils wanting to borrow books, and because Jenny knows each of the students so well, she can always recommend a book they will love. Jenny also works really well with all members of staff and incorporates their teaching into her story-time, either through the choice of books or through what she chooses to highlight. She even runs a pupil librarian scheme and gets involved in all school open days.

For the Enterprise of the Year Award, the judges were impressed by the highly imaginative project run by Broughton Junior School in Aylesbury, Berkshire. The unprecedented use of space in both of the library areas – the garden and the ‘Victorian’ reading room, was respected by the judges as magical, with books that ‘mirrored’ the local community and in turn, encouraged the children’s curiosity.

The winner of the ‘Community Award’, which recognises wider support for the school library from local businesses or individuals, was the Alexandra Palace Children’s Book Award Team which included Helen Swinyard, Tanya Efthymiou, Gill Ward, and Kate Ereira. The project demonstrated a brilliant joint working initiative between primary, secondary schools and public libraries; one that the judges noted was refreshed each year to keep it feeling new. The longevity and growth of this project over several years is proof of how it is valued by the community.

Alison Tarrant, Chief Executive Officer at the School Library Association said:

“We were really impressed with the high quality of entries for this year, and our panels of esteemed judges had an incredibly hard time selecting the winners – even harder than usual!

“To be named as an honouree is a great achievement in itself, but to be crowned a SLA Awards winner at a time when school libraries are vital for post-pandemic recovery to become the heart of so many schools, is something to truly celebrate. On behalf of all the judges, I would like to congratulate the winners.  They should be extremely proud of receiving this accolade, and we look forward to sharing their knowledge and experience with other schools across the UK.

“The awards play such a valuable part in not only rewarding excellence but also helping other schools to see what is possible. The SLA team and our panel of esteemed judges were amazed by the creativity and determination demonstrated by the winners.

“Congratulations to them all.”

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