Opinions

ALISS goes to Govan High – Here’s to the next 100 years!

Written by: Jane Ankori, ALISS team, the ALLIANCE

Published: 28/10/2014

The ALLIANCE's Jane Ankori tells us how Govan High is utilising the ALISS tool.

On 15 September 2014, I went along to the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh to present ALISS to a group of library digital champions at the invitation of Amina Shah, CEO of the Scottish Library & Information Council. Many thanks Amina for the opportunity. Afterwards I shared a cup of tea with Ian McCracken – who has many roles but among them is Voluntary Archivist at Govan High School. Ian was interested in how ALISS might be useful in schools, particularly school libraries, for linking pupils and families to local sources of support. Ian very kindly arranged to host a visit to the school for Christine Hoy (the ALLIANCE Primary Care Development Manager) and I. We went along on Friday 24th October, for what turned out to be a moving and inspirational visit.

One of the first impressions I had on entering the school was of the value placed on all those who had been, and currently are, part of the school. Memorials on the wall commemorate former pupils and teachers who died in our World Wars, and the original dux boards have been preserved and are displayed in the main hall on entrance. All over the school there are displays of past and present pupils – their work, achievements and contributions to the area and society at large.

We met initially with Ian, Graham Robertson (Principal teacher of Pastoral Care) and Anne Louise Anglim (Glasgow Life, Principal Librarian Access and Schools). Following introductions, we headed off to the school library and met Fiona the school librarian. The library was full of pupils working on lessons in a bright welcoming room filled with books and an impressive row of PC’s. Posters lined the walls, some of which has been created by pupils themselves. The school library is open for pupils to visit during breaks and also after school and seems to be a well-used hub.

Later in the morning we joined the teacher’s morning tea/coffee break: an opportunity for teachers to catch up and offer each other support. We heard about the pupils’ visit to Auschwitz and Berlin – and of the various other activities taking place in the school.

Ian, Graham, Anne Louise, Christine and myself then sat down to talk about ALISS and opportunities to work together to benefit pupils, their families, the school and the local community.

We talked about how people report that all sorts of things are helpful to their health and wellbeing e.g. places and activities as well as traditional services – and that ALISS has been designed to help people to gather and share information about sources of health and wellbeing support within their own area.

We heard about the ‘Hot Chocolate club’ near the school, run by local church and that is an invaluable source of support for local families, yet known only by word of mouth. ALISS offers a means to share information electronically about such resources and presents them in one view alongside other services and community assets.

Later on a guided tour of the school, I noticed the display below outside one of the classrooms. Some of the useful resources listed here include art workshops, health drop in services, Childline and local activities. I learned that the difficulty with this is that the posters quickly go out of date. I explained that these are the very types of resources that ALISS has been designed to list – and wondered if having these useful assets listed electronically in ALISS and available from the library in the school would be helpful. Having the listings in ALISS reduces cost and helps people collaborate to keep information up to date.

I noticed also that pupils have been involved in learning about resources and have produced their own posters for display on the walls. We chatted about role of the pupils themselves in gathering information about local sources of support in their community. We reflected on the potential of this activity to help those who are isolated – particularly young carers. We acknowledged that making links in the community and building a support network can be very helpful.

We also wondered about the links the school might want to make with others in the community involved in similar work. The Links Worker Programme has a links worker based in Govan Health Centre who is responsible for identifying local sources of support, sharing them in ALISS, signposting, support and helping to build links between GP Practices and the community.

Following a very productive and fascinating conversation we agreed that school libraries are ideally placed for displaying information about ALISS and that school librarians can have key role in letting pupils know about ALISS and helping signpost them to local activities and support. This seemed an achievable first step.

We felt that there might be a good opportunity to involve pupils directly in the work – initially perhaps co-producing some materials and further down the line, talking about what matters to them, gathering information about what’s going on in their community and placing it onto ALISS. There may also be an opportunity to explore older pupils taking on an ambassador role.

A thought occurred to me as we spoke that we might look at developing an initiative around IT aspects and I’m in the process of thinking about how we might make something like this happen. All the ingredients are there – very exciting possibilities.

What now?

Thank you Anne Louise for the invitation to present to school and community librarians to raise awareness of ALISS – looking forward to it.

With great enthusiasm we’ve joined forces to develop a joint project proposal – considering work across four areas of Glasgow.  Watch this space!

We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to Ian McCracken and the staff and pupils of Govan High School, for a warm welcome and fascinating visit. We very much look forward to working together.

If you would like to learn more about or input to the history of Govan High School – please contact the school and ask for Ian McCracken.

If you are interested in exploring how ALISS could benefit your community, including local nurseries or schools please contact us via email aliss@alliance-scotland.org.uk or by telephoning 0141 404 0239.

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