Tag Archives: Julia Donaldson


Gruffalo author calls to protect school libraries from ‘short-sighted’ cuts

The acclaimed author of The Gruffalo has added her voice to a national campaign, which champions Scotland’s library services to protect them from further cuts.

Julia Donaldson MBE is supporting the Libraries Matter campaign from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS), which asks candidates standing in the local government elections on 4th May 2017 to protect the library budget and support professionally staffed school libraries.

The former Children’s Laureate is highlighting the importance of school libraries and librarians in supporting the curriculum, which research shows improve reading, attainment and literacy levels  – core aims of the Scottish Government.

Despite this, school libraries are undervalued. Pupil numbers have increased by more than 6700 since 2010, but cuts have left only 11 out of 32 local authorities with a full-time qualified librarian in every secondary school.

During her visits to schools across the UK and overseas, Mrs Donaldson sees first-hand the value that school libraries and librarians add to learners’ education. She said:

“Reading broadens the mind, stimulates the imagination and increases literacy. And librarians and libraries are the most important people and places for fostering a love of reading.

“In particular, school librarians, who develop close relationships with the pupils, often can suggest just the right book to a child from a home where there are few or no books, instilling what can become a lifelong love of reading.”

Mrs Donaldson also penned an open letter to Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year, despairing about the closure of Argyll & Bute’s school libraries. She added:

“When I was in Australia recently I met a group of primary-school librarians, who told me that their post was a prestigious one: to attain it, one has to be a teacher with an additional librarian’s qualification entitling one to an increase in salary.

“They could hardly believe it when I told them that in the UK there were hardly any primary-school librarians and that many of those in secondary schools were losing their jobs. 

“How can we be so short-sighted?”

The Libraries Matter campaign also calls on those who use or work in libraries to get involved in advocating the benefits that Scotland’s school libraries deliver, such as Elgin Academy’s Paired Reading scheme, which actively improves reading ages (case study below).

Catherine Kearney, Director of CILIP in Scotland, said: “School libraries are a safe andsupportive learning environment where all pupils have equal and equitable access to curriculum-related learning resources, both physical and digital, practical support, and information for educational purposes.”

“Schools with school libraries and librarians achieve higher exam scores, leading to higher academic attainment and increased motivation and self-esteem among pupils.”

“Our campaign targets those standing for election in Scotland’s local authorities to pledge support for our school and public libraries and stand up against cuts and reductions in service. In addition, we have held discussions with the Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills John Swinney, highlighting the need for National Standards for school libraries.”

Added Eileen Prior, Executive Director at Scottish Parent Teacher Council: “Children, parents and teachers appreciate school libraries and the advice of dedicated librarians. They contribute to the learning of children and foster a love of books, which is a life-long gift. At a time when literacy is a key priority in our schools, the role of libraries and librarians is even more critical than ever.”


Case Study: Paired Reading scheme at Elgin Academy, Moray.

 Bruce and Kayleigh  Sep 16

Elgin Academy’s librarian, Shelagh Toonen, introduced the Paired Reading scheme in 2012 and its benefits are acknowledged within the school community. S6 students are paired with younger S1 pupils to encourage reading fluency and comprehension with the sharing of books and reading held in the library.

Kayleigh Young, an S6 student, said: “The Paired Reading scheme is extremely beneficial for all who take part. I have seen the confidence of my paired reader Bruce grow incredibly. He has communication difficulties, so this experience has been all the more rewarding. It has been amazing to see his confidence and motivation grow in reading. I have also helped him with creating and presenting his book talks and helped him to focus his interests.

“I highly recommend participating in a paired reading scheme, as everyone gains. It also creates a closer bond between year groups and so benefits the whole school community.”

At the end of the academic session, the librarian interviews the outgoing S6 students on film about their experience, which is used at the induction day for new S6 students while the readers’ interviews are used to develop the scheme.

Karen Grant, Depute Head Teacher at Elgin Academy, said: “The Paired Reading programme makes a significant difference to the students, with their reading ages clearly improving.  It unlocks literacy across all their learning, in all their subjects.  It gives them the confidence to move forward in their reading and to work on a one-to-one basis with a positive role model.”


Issued by JK Consultancy on behalf of CILIP in Scotland. For further information, please contact Jenny Kumar on 07989 557198 or jenny@jkconsultancy.com

Notes to Editor

Photo captions:

  • Donaldson_166_1mb – Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo

Photo available of S6 student Kayleigh Young with paired reader Bruce at Elgin Academy.

About CILIP in Scotland

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland works in partnership with CILIP to advocate the value of library and information professionals’ skills to society and to support members of CILIP in Scotland in attaining and retaining professional qualifications.

CILIP in Scotland is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Registration No: SCO38532


More than £20k raised at Charity Arts Auction and Postcard Sale

More than three hundred people came out in support of arts charity Artlink Central at Sunday night’s Art off the Rock event (Sunday, November 4th 2012).

With a highly competitive auction and postcard sale as well as book signings by the charity’s Patron and Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson, it is estimated that well over £20,000 was raised to support the work of Artlink Central’s artists in engaging people in prison, hospitals, schools and communities who face barriers to expressing themselves, to their health and wellbeing or to their learning.

Supported by Smith and Williamson, the event was hosted by Beaconhurst School in Bridge of Allan with school prefects welcoming guests. Other support came from United Auctions, Alison Green Books, Macmillan Children’s Books, Bronze Framing and Showcase Glass as well as hundreds of professional and non-professional artists from Scotland and beyond.

Director of Artlink Central,Kevin Harrison, said: “We were delighted to see so many new and familiar faces at this year’s events. We auctioned 35 lots of paintings and sold hundreds of original postcards, some by artists such as Elizabeth Blackadder, June Carey and Peter Nardini.

“With the fantastic support of our Patron, Julia Donaldson and the supreme talents of Auctioneer David Leggat from United Auctions we had a truly memorable evening in Bridge of Allan. Thanks to all who supported us.”


For further information, please contact:

Kevin Harrison, Director, Artlink Central on 01786 4488359 / 07764940919 or Kevin@artlinkcentral.org


Final countdown to ART OFF THE ROCK auction (Sun 4 Nov; 6-9pm)

As the final countdown to Sunday November 4th and the Art Off the Rock auction begins, Artlink Central are pleased to announce that the online catalogue is now available on our website: www.artlinkcentral.org.

This year’s auction, generously curated by artists Lesley Banks, Lesley Anne Derks and Jacqueline Marr and conducted by United Auctions’ Executive Chairman David Leggat,  will include work by:

Peter Howson, Catriona Campbell, Muriel Barclay, Elizabeth Blackadder, Barbara Rae, Lesley Banks, June Carey, Graham Stewart, Hilary Barker, Alan King, Jacqueline Marr, Lesley Anne Derks and many others ofnote.

The gala evening takes place from 6pm to 9pm at Beaconhurst School in Bridge of Allan, where the latest offering from famed illustrator, Axel Scheffler ‚‘The Highway Rat‘ will also be up for grabs on the night.

The Highway Rat  is the character from his latest collaboration with Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson, who will be at Art Off The Rock to sign copies of the book as well as of her other new title, Super Worm. Copies of the books have been generously donated by Alison Green books.

The event also features the Anonymous Postcard Sale featuring work by hundreds of artists. Competition is fierce to grab a small work by a big-name artist, or just pick up a lovely unique artwork. This year’s crop of postcards include work by Elizabeth Blackadder, Peter Nardini, Lys Hansen and June Carey.

Art Off The Rockattracts an audience of around 400 including long-term supporters, collectors and members of the arts community. The event raises crucial funds for the delivery of innovative arts programmes to adults and children who experience learning disabilities, mental illness or social exclusion.

Lesley Ann Derks, participating artisit and member of the Art Off the Rock advisory committee said: “I’m thrilled to be part of Art of the Rock for the second time.  Artlink is an amazing charity, which I have had the pleasure of working for on various projects for four years.  I have seen first- hand what a difference their projects make to people’s lives.

“The event is sure to be a great night with displays of work available by some of the best artists around.  I’m excited the public will get a chance to purchase these works and help towards Artlink continuing its good work.”

Art Off The Rock is proudly supported by Smith and Williamson, Beaconhurst School, United Auctions, Woodwinters Wines and Whiskies, Alison Green Books and Macmillan Children’s Books.

For more information about how to get tickets please call: 01786 450971 or email Fiona@artlinkcentral.org


Notes to Editor:

Viewing from 6pm; postcard sale at 7.15pm, auction at 7.45pm.

The full address for the event is Beaconhurst School, Kenilworth Road, Bridge of Allan FK9 4RR.