Guest blog: Elizabeth Hutchinson @Elizabethutch is the Head of the Schools’ Library Service, Guernsey, a Chartered Librarian and Fellow of CILIP. She came runner up in the 2016 LILAC Information Literacy Award, is an international presenter, a published author and regular blogger on ways school librarians can make a difference in school. 

Over the last few years I have been very aware that Guernsey’s Schools’ Library Service (SLS) was unable to provide a choice of online resources for our primary and early secondary students. When our SLS librarians go out into the schools to teach research one of the skills we cover is the ability to compare search results but this proved difficult without access to a range of resources at the right level for our students.

When JCS told us about Q-files I realised we had found what we were looking for. This resource is well presented, easy to navigate, great value and has all the usual features you would expect from an academic resource which include:

  • Options to listen for those struggling readers
  • Options for easier reading via Let’s Explore
  • A citation button to allow referencing to be introduced

The publishers of Q-files have thought carefully about how children will navigate their site by providing curriculum tabs at the top of the page that give drop-down lists for easy browsing to the subjects covered. There is also a search box for those who know what they want to find. Once the subject is chosen there are great bite size blocks of information that are not too daunting and very accessible to even the poorest reader. Lots of pictures and diagrams break up the text making this a resource for all abilities. Q-files makes it easy for children to extend their learning through the contents list on the left and via links throughout the information found.

Our SLS librarians are regularly asked to support research lessons so we are now able to use and demonstrate Q-files alongside our other resources. We use these resources to demonstrate keyword searching, finding quality information and referencing. When we visit our schools, we are seeing evidence of teachers and children choosing to use Q-files above everything else. When we ask children why they choose Q-files they tell us they like the way it looks and that is easy to use.

These are the features we like most:

  • It links with the national curriculum
  • Tabs are easy to navigate, and the search box very visible
  • The introduction of ‘Let’s explore’ giving access to younger children or children who find reading hard
  • The listen tool has an English voice
  • The ability to switch to a different language making it useful for Modern Foreign Language teachers

We have also found the publishers of Q-files very approachable and open to suggestions which is a big plus point.

I ran out of time at the JCS conference to demonstrate the resource so instead I’ve created this short video to show you round. Click the picture to watch and listen. I hope you like it as much as we do in Guernsey!

Request a free no obligation trial to explore Q-files for yourself here. You can also share the trial with colleagues.