Young woman swamped by research

I thought I'd follow up the recent "learning from failures" post with one celebrating a recent success.

I am a librarian at a secondary school with pupils between the ages of 11-16. This means that my role involves much less information literacy responsibility than it would for a school that included A-level students (16-18). And so it was with great interest that I learned that the school was going to start offering an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)1 to a small set of our more academically able students.

Unfortunately, I only found out about this about half way through the students' progress, when I was asked to talk to the neighbouring FE college's librarian about what they could offer our students. I was a little peeved that I hadn't been asked what I could offer our students! However, I took the opportunity to make myself indispensable to the students and to the EPQ course leader.

Not only did I talk to the college librarian, I also contacted librarians from our two local Universities, gathering as much information as I could and signing us up to as many (decent and free) resources as I could find. I enrolled myself on an EPQ for Librarians training course provided by the School Library Association, which provided an excellent grounding in the course.

I stay in regular contact with the course leader, and chat to the students about their projects whenever I see them in the library. I keep an eye open for relevant material and pass it on to them when I find it. I arranged a session with the students to go over some key information literacy skills to help them with their projects - planning, researching, referencing, evaluating and managing. The feedback from the students after this session was fantastic - one said it was the single most productive thing they've done around the EPQ. Another told me that it was obvious that I was the most qualified librarian they'd ever had at the school. Flattery! Vindication! I love it!

Because this is the first time our school has offered this course, there have been mistakes - but, like in the previous post, we are learning from them. We have already started talking about and planning for next year's batch of students. Unfortunately, it is a little late for our current EPQ guineapigs students, but next year's intake should be much better prepared and supported.

I have really enjoyed getting involved with this course, spending time with some bright, enthusiastic and motivated students, and utilising the skills and knowledge I gained during my Masters. And I got to flex some of my less-exercised Librarian Muscles™ - it was satisfying to see that they still work!



  1. The EPQ is equivalent to about half an A-Level, and is like a mini-dissertation. It is usually offered to A-level students as a way to better prepare them for university.