A Barbarian in the Reading room

Welcome to my blog


Why this title? Well in my last school job I had a reading (as in reading a book) room and this was used on Open Days by the Learning Support Department. At one such event they put up a notice saying Leaning Support and I said "Oh I suppose this is the Reading (as in UK town to the west of London) Room now." They retorted by naming me the Barbarian and it has sort of stuck.


Sadly, this blog does not include much about Reading (as in the UK town to the west of London) or barbarians but will contain my thoughts on issues in the library and information world and also detail some of the events I have attended, places I have visited and courses I have run. Enjoy!

By sjpavey, Nov 1 2014 02:45PM

There must be mysterious things afoot with Halloween etc as it seems my blog as of mid October has disappeared! So here follows a summary of events and thoughts since mid September.

Firstly an interesting visit back to Box Hill School as a consultant to talk through Extended Essays with the Upper Sixth for their International Baccalaureate. I was able to offer a follow up consultancy by email and a few took me up on this which kept me busy in the early part of October. It was great to work with them and to show them the skills of referencing and layout and they were quick to pick up on it which was very satisfying. It will be invaluable when they get to university.

I did some general library consultancy and training at Caterham School including a session on the Library Management System Access-It. In fact I am now offering freelance training on this system with the blessing of the Company and I'm really looking forward to promoting this again. it's a great system with so many features and all for the one price - no surprise bolt ons to worry about. It's also good to promote a family firm who do their own development work.

Creative Education kept me at the beginning of October with a couple of courses on The Effective School Librarian. One was in London and one in Manchester. I only had a couple of delegates on each but it was certainly interesting. In London one school was an inner city comprehensive and the other an independent girls school in an expensive area. I didn't think in a million years that the delegates would have so much in common - it just proves how wrong you can be. For example both had difficulty in establishing reading habits outside school - one because parents could not speak English or could not read and the other because although the parents were educated, they had an overseas nanny to look after the children who had similar issues. In Manchester my challenge was a delegate who was very experienced and knowledgable but wanted some formal training and a very quiet new recruit to the profession. Both had a great time and gave good feedback so I think I managed to get the balance right and give both an opportunity to express their views.

I have at last finished the Academic Honesty Course for the School Library Association - Yay! Hopefully this will now be up and running before too long. Time to think about the next one. Maybe cataloguing?

...and in between all the work on the Library front it's been a busy few weeks on the music front particularly with Morrigan, playing at Tenterden Folk Festival and more and also the filming of the Irish Music Session at the Kilkenny Tavern in Wimbledon.

So what's to come...well I'm doing some more development work at Winston Churchill School, sorting out some training with Osiris Educational, going to a couple of librarian meetings and then there is the Heath's Training Course on Academic Honesty followed by my inaugral appearance with Independent Thinking Limited at their Big Day Out Down South. Phew!

By sjpavey, Sep 12 2014 03:36PM

So the P45 arrived in the post yesterday heralding the final cut off from permanent employment at Box Hill School. It really is the start of a new adventure and reality is beginning to kick in ...but in a good way. Firstly sleep patterns are interesting. At first some consultancy work had me out of bed even earlier than before and I was beginning to wonder if this was such a good idea but things have settled down with not every day being out and about. There has been time for writing and even better time for thinking and reflecting. I can however appreciate how some people lose track of what day of the week it is. Avoiding the challenge not to slob around in night attire for much of the day is also an aspect I hadn't envisaged!

So far I have been moving and sorting the Junior and Infant libraries for the Gordon Schools in Medway and advising their near neighbour school New Horizon's Children's Academy with the help of Jo Thornhill and the ever wonderful Heath Educational Books. It has been quite a physical task and it looks as if this will continue with my latest client Winston Churchill School near Woking.

I'm also engaged on doing some training this month for a couple of schools - one for library staff and one for the 6th form on extended essays. Then there are a couple of courses for Creative Education in London and Manchester too.

In between all this I am writing the SLA online course on Academic Honesty and looking at the updating of The Innovative School Librarian for the planned revised edition.

My work with Independent Thinking Ltd is really getting interesting. I am now delivering a keynote speech at their Big Day Out Down South which I've called "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants". It will look at how Academic Honesty is vital in this age of digital information and the implications for research and future legacy if we do not get students today to appreciate the need for these skills. I've also been invited to speak at another of their conferences in June next year.

One of the pieces of information which Ian Gilbert recently shared is an amazing film called Schooling the World - The White Man's Last Burden. It's been a while since I watched something so thought provoking as this. Basically it questions whether our imposition of Western Culture on Third World Countries has any long term benefit or whether we are destroying their culture and philosophy to the extent that it simply disappears. Particularly poignant I felt was the part where the German teacher who had raised money to build a school in the Himalayas was proudly explaining her charitable work and this was balanced against the effect it might have on the community. Another interesting part for me was the consideration that anthropologically these commumnities had existed for thousands of years and in comparison the industrial world and the technological world had only been around for a few hundred years and a few decades respectively - so whch society was most successful? It considered that Western Education had only given benefit to a few and the vast majority of young people were left between cultures - unable toget employment in the city and yet unfamiliar with customs and practices at home. It is a beautifully shot film and at another level could so easily be used to demonstrate how the media can manipulate our emotions and feelings. If you havn't seen it, take a look and be inspired.

Finally I was very lucky to take a bid on eBay and pick up an ipad mini for less than half price. OK so its not the latest model but I'm intending to load it up with Apps and arrange according to Bloom's Taxonomy so that I have got something independent for training purposes rather than using my personal device.

So the Barbarian has boldly stepped out alone but is far from lonely .....is this a bold step too far? Only time will tell!

By sjpavey, May 18 2014 11:39AM

This month I have run a couple of interesting training courses both looking at the delivery of information skills.

Firstly for Creative Education, the day long course concentrated on the need for information literacy inclusion in the secondary school curriculum and ways in which this could be embedded. Part of the difficulty of course for librarians is the non statutory status in England and this is reflected in the lack of direct inclusion in the National Curriculum. So this course looked at opportunities to work with teachers in delivery and considered why some teachers were reluctant to embrace the library and the services of the librarian. What made this particularly interesting was that there were two qualified teachers on the course and so they were able to make insightful comments. Both had experience of school librarians and one was temporarily managing /caretaking the library until a librarian was appointed. Both agreed that they were unaware of the extent the librarian could be involved in teaching and learning and so hopefully this course achieved something in spreading the word. The course was very based on libraries and geared towards librarians and so it also covered learning styles and classroom management. It got me thinking about whether there is room for a course about the delivery of research skills for teachers.

The second course saw me back again at the wonderful Heath's Educational Books Showroom and we had a lively day dealing with research and writing up skills for 6th formers embarking on extended projects be it EPQ, IB Diploma Extended Essay or Cambridge Pre U. The delegates had a chance to put their own research skills into action by exploring the showroom for resources using a real essay title. We also looked at sources of information, evaluation and synthesis and touched briefly on academic honesty (although the latter will be run as a more in depth course in the autumn).

So next month I am returning to sessions with 6th formers and Year 10s in schools and leave the adults behind for a bit! .....and looking forward to the book being launched by the SLA.

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