Sheffield student wins Pupil Library Assistant of the Year award

A Sheffield student has beat off fierce competition to be crowned the Pupil Library Assistant of the Year 2019.

By Alana Roberts
Friday, 29 March, 2019, 13:59
Rhiannon with all the books she won which were signed by the authors themselves

Rhiannon Salvin, a student at Firth Park Academy which is part of the Academies Enterprise Trust, took the train to London for the first time on March 22 to receive the prestigious award at a ceremony at Penguin Random House on the Strand.

The Year 9 pupil reached the top seven finalists with her outstanding application, beating off competition from pupils in private and state schools across the country. 

Rhiannon with the other finalists and Philip Ardagh

At the ceremony she was celebrated by 20 children’s authors including Roald Dahl, prize-winning author Philip Ardagh and Robin Stevens, author of the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries.

The judging panel – a group of children’s librarians and literacy experts including guest judge, critically-acclaimed author Jo Cotterill – deemed Rhiannon’s entry to be exceptional.

It showed the range of tasks she carries out within her school library, all of which she does with enthusiasm and dedication going beyond what is expected of her. 

Rhiannon with childrens author Philip Ardagh

The award is run by the School Libraries Group, CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) and the School Library Association.

It recognises the work carried out by students in their school libraries and the range of skills involved.

Rhiannon Salvin said: “I was so shocked, and never expected it. It felt amazing to win, because the standard was so high. It was lovely to meet all the authors, especially Robin Stevens who has championed me.”

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Rhiannon with childrens author Robin Stevens, who championed her at the ceremony

Rhiannon knew no-one when she started at Firth Park so took comfort in the library.

Over time she has flourished, taking on the role of pupil librarian. The library has enabled her to develop personal qualities, raising her self-confidence to take on a leadership role within the library and increasing her resilience so that she can support others.

Firth Park Academy Principal, Mr Dean Jones, said: “Rhiannon is a modest and humble superstar. She embodies Firth Park’s core values of aspiration, respect and resilience.

“We are committed to equipping all our students with the academic and emotional skills to allow them to lead not just successful, but remarkable lives, and this is a wonderful example of that. Rhiannon is as respected as any adult member of staff in her role as a student librarian.”

Firth Park Academy Library Manager, Mrs Alison Edwards, said: “Rhiannon is quiet and reserved with a big heart who goes above and beyond her normal duties, and who underestimates herself and her skills.

“Over time her confidence has grown so that she is now comfortable talking to visiting parents, helping the diverse community of students with enquiries, ensuring a studious atmosphere during homework club and welcoming new students into the library.”

Julian Drinkall, CEO of the Academies Enterprise Trust, said: “Firth Park Academy is making the most of every opportunity for all its students. This is a prime example of how all our academies are delivering an education that allows young people to go on and lead remarkable lives – and that is what drives us at AET.”