16 September 2008
Dear Ms Braxton
Thank you for your email of 18 August 2008 to the Chief Minister, Mr Jon Stanhope MLA and myself about the recruitment of qualified teacher librarians for ACT public schools. As the issues you raise fall within my portfolio responsibility the Chief Minister has asked me to respond on his behalf.
While I certainly share your view that qualified teacher librarians contribute considerably to the delivery of high quality teaching and learning opportunities for students, the continued shortage of suitably qualified staff is an impediment in recent times has made this difficult to achieve across all ACT public schools.
The Department of Education and Training is currently conducting a review of employment arrangements for teacher librarians which is due to be completed later year. I have asked that a copy of your letter be provided to the review panel and that the key issues of recruitment and training be addressed as part of the review.
Thank you for raising this issue with me.
Andrew Barr MLA
Minister for Education and Training
Mr Jon Stanhope
ACT Chief Minister
Mr Andrew Barr
ACT Minister for Education
The Opposition is making a strong stance on the education platform for the upcoming ACT elections, stating primary classes will be no more than 21 students and more secondary teachers will be employed, both of which are to be commended and which are in direct contrast to your policy of school consolidation and closures.
These promises are gaining popularity with the public. However, they are not enough to improve student learning outcomes, even if it were possible to find enough teachers and grow enough buildings to meet their goals.
To ensure teachers are able to deliver a quality curriculum, and students develop the skills which will enable them to function independently in the 21st century, there needs to be a qualified teacher librarian on the staff of every school from primary through to college. Over 60 studies in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK have provided strong evidence that well-resourced school libraries with professionally trained teacher librarians are a key predictor of student academic achievement http://hubinfo.wordpress.com/background/research/ yet, more and more, this position is disappearing within our ACT schools as principals fashion their staffing budgets to meet their own agendas. (In some schools even vital roles like Reading Recovery and ESL have been abandoned.)
It is not enough to have an unqualified clerk to run the library (as is the growing trend) because, although they may be able to manage circulation and shelving duties very well, they do not have the knowledge, experience and expertise to
- provide leadership in curriculum development and delivery;
- develop a resource collection that meets the needs of staff, students and that curriculum;
- teach information literacy skills so students can manage the information world with confidence and competence;
- undertake the myriad of other responsibilities of the qualified teacher librarian.
What will your party do to ensure that the position of a fully qualified teacher librarian is mandated in the staffing framework of every school to ensure that staff and students have access to the vital support and services they require?
Please do not reply saying that it is up to principals to staff their schools, because the current system is not working to the students’ best advantage, particularly with principals only in positions for a maximum of six years. I shall be sharing your response with the teacher librarians and teachers of the ACT.
M.Ed.(Teacher Librarianship); M.App.Sci (Teacher Librarianship)
National Librarian of the Year 2003