Hear why Sally Hamerton has decided to join the GSL Campaign Committee, and find out more about her and her work.
As Primary School Librarian of the Year 2023, I have considered how I could best use this opportunity to raise the importance of having a staffed library in every school, so that other children might benefit from the riches our school library provides for our children. I regularly witness the impact of a staffed, well stocked and dedicated library on our whole school community. I have been in post for almost four years and recognise that a staffed school library for every child should not be down to luck, but a right.
Ours is a three-form Primary school, with higher than national average numbers of EAL children and those for whom we receive Pupil Premium. When I started in my role, the library was an underused space with uninspiring and tired book stock. The library layout was made more accessible, and using a healthy library budget, I purchased carefully selected books that represented our school community, introduced our young readers to new authors, and broadened their exposure to the best fiction and non-fiction. Outdated and tatty books that don’t issue and don’t have a place in a vibrant school library are regularly weeded out. Immediately, issues increased, and library engagement rocketed.
With access to thousands of new books, came the joy of seeing children develop their reading tastes and recommend books to one another, to staff and to external visitors. Their engagement with books never ceases to astound me. Our reading statistics reflect the positive impact of exposure to quality writing and of regular author visits, particularly among our pupil premium children, which has been quite staggering.
My Librarian role goes further than issuing books and organising author visits: weekly EYFS and KS1 Storytimes are geared towards each class. Our youngest children missed out on Storytime and Rhymetime sessions in public libraries during lockdown and so tailored Storytime sessions are such a powerful time, introducing children to rich language and sequencing, improving concentration and listening skills, whilst encouraging imagination and communication as the children make sense of their world.
My involvement with our school community is not limited to our pupils: teaching and support staff are invited to open library sessions where they are able to borrow the best in new writing for children. When children see us as readers, they see that reading is valued and something that will take them right through to adulthood. I love speaking to prospective parents at our open evenings, emphasising just how central the library is to our school.
Our library is more than a room full of books. It is the beating heart of our school and something of which I am very proud. In joining the Great School Libraries campaign I am hopeful that I can help other schools to see how their pupils will benefit a well-stocked library, permanently staffed by an experienced librarian.
Sally Hamerton, Two Mile Hill Primary School
Primary School Librarian of the Year 2023