Letter to SMH: School libraries vital to fostering the love of literacy

6 08 2016
5 August 2016

   Dr Robyn Cox (‘‘Results won’t improve overnight’’, August 4) and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (‘‘War of words over worth of Gonski model’’, August 4) are certainly both correct in stating that literacy and numeracy results take time to improve.

However, Dr Cox needs to go further in her opinion that more focus is needed regarding teacher professional development in knowledge about language and teaching strategies about reading.  

Why do we continually believe that literacy, taught as a standalone program in the classroom is the answer to increasing literacy standards? What happens to a student after leaving school, who may have improved their literacy level according to a standardised test, but who never develops an actual reading behaviour, enabling them to actually develop that love of story, to read critically and to believe that reading is an essential, valued endeavour?   Literacy programs must revolve around quality of story and the engagement of the reader.

All schools have a library, but the quality of that library and its intrinsic value to a child’s engagement with reading is unfortunately in sharp decline.   The answer is staring Mr Birmingham et al in the face. Well resourced school libraries and a qualified teacher librarian working with classroom teachers (and even parents) in whole school reading (and writing) programs to develop a reading culture holds the key. Not only in improving the literacy results politicians are so focused on, but to set a child up with a lifelong behaviour of the joy and value of reading.  

Sharon McGuinness Thirroul





2015 Softlink Survey Results Published

13 04 2016

The sixth annual survey of Australian school libraries has expanded to include New Zealand Schools. The first survey was done to inform Softlink’s submission to the federal Inquiry into  School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in Australian Schools. Survey results are an invaluable source of information on school library staffing and budgets, to inform advocacy.

Of the 9404 schools in Australia (ABS, 2015) and 2538 schools in New Zealand, 994 responded to the survey. While a low percentage of respondents, no other such statistics are collected by an Australian body. These statistics  provide a much needed snapshot over time, and reinforce findings of other studies internationally.

For example:

  • There was a positive correlation between annual Australian school library budgets and NAPLAN Reading Literacy results.
  • There was a positive correlation between the number of school librarians employed in Australian school libraries and NAPLAN Reading Literacy results.

Further findings, including information on mobile device uptake and e-books, can be found in the report available at http://www.softlinkint.com/2015-softlink-australian-and-new-zealand-school-library-survey-report

Congratulations, Softlink, for your on-going support for teacher-librarians.

 

 

 





Support the Great School Libraries campaign

26 03 2016

ALIA Schools Section and its partners have undertaken a promising new campaign to raise awareness with principals, politicians and parents of what an excellent school library looks like.  And it is no surprise that the number one criteria is having a professionally qualified teacher librarian.

Go to the FAIR Great School Libraries home page to see

To quote:

“FAIR’s sign off to its new report on the impact of school libraries and teacher librarians is a call for the Australian Government to endorse the goal of a teacher librarian for every school.

The report states, ‘Federal, State and Territory Governments’ acknowledgement of the vital role of school libraries in supporting reading, digital literacy, critical thinking and research skills, together with a strong recommendation from Education Ministers about the employment of teacher librarians and qualified library staff in schools within their jurisdiction, would be a significant step forward. Further, it would be of benefit to look for innovative ways of providing access to teacher librarians where there is not the critical mass to support a full-time appointment and to incentivise principals to employ teacher librarians where there is a large student body.’

FAIR and its library association partners will be pursuing this conversation with the Federal Government in the coming months.”

We commend ALIA Schools Section and its partners for this much needed effort and look forward to further steps in the campaign.





Should we be in despair about the status quo of TLs?

13 08 2015

The day after the tabling in Parliament of the Report of the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in May 2011, these MPs gave insightful, informative and supportive speeches to open the eyes of educators and parents and urge action.  If you didn’t have time then, take time now and be renewed and inspired. Note six are still in office.

The speech of Sharon Bird, MP (Labor NSW), initial committee chair (2015 still in office)

The speech of Karen Andrews, MP (Liberal Qld), committee member and currently (2015) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science

The speech of Yvette D’Ath, MP (Labor Qld), committee member

The speech of Deborah O’Neill, MP (Labor NSW), committee member (2015 still in office)

The speech of Mike Symon, MP (Labor Vic), committee member

The speech of Alan Tudge, MP (Liberal Vic), committee member and currently (2015) Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

In addition, two members of the committee gave speeches upon tabling the report the day before:

The speech of Amanda Rishworth, MP (Labor SA), subsequent committee chair (2015 still in office)

The speech of Rowan Ramsey, MP (Liberal SA) committee member (2015 still in office)

We DO have parliamentarians who understand.





Illawarra TLs speak out

20 06 2014

Illawarra Mercury article June 20 2014TLs defend role in digital age





NSW Teachers Union negotiates to save specialist teachers under LSLD guidelines

2 06 2014

The NSW Teachers Federation has successfully negotiated with their state department of education for principals to be able to use Gonski funding to retain specialist teachers, such as teacher librarians.

“Federation successfully advocated that schools should use this funding to create whatever new staffing positions they sought, rather than trade off existing positions and jeopardise the overall entitlement in the future. If a school demonstrates that they can do away with an assistant principal, head teacher or teacher-librarian position today, why would Treasury in the future continue to fund the existing number of positions? As evidenced in Victoria, this reduction in provision is what the devolution agenda is all about.”

While devolution in staffing decisions has meant the trade off of some teaching positions for others, to the long-term detriment of these positions, this does not have to happen in NSW. See full article at “New policy to determine staff mix in schools” by Gary Zadkovich (Education newsletter of the NSW Teachers Federation, 2 June 2014)





No TLs, fewer kids learning to read?

16 02 2014

Schools are failing to teach children to read

Read what authors and educators are saying is behind lower reading results








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