Premier’s Reading Challenge

10 12 2007

I have long been critical of the PRC.  To me it seemed like more of a PR exercise, so that the state governments could say, “look at what we do for literacy in our state!” while library staff or teachers were required to spend hours organising and running the event, with no real support in terms of time or money. As one teacher libarian tells us,

We didn’t do the Premier’s Reading Challenge at all this year as a matter of principle.  We have 650 students in years 7-9.  Each has to be individually registered by the registered teacher.   Each student takes several minutes to register, and then logging all of their reading takes forever.  For each book you type in for each student, the data base searches to see if it finds a match, then you confirm it.  If a student reads 30 or 40 books it can take well over an hour.  Up until now we have been offered nothing, no admin support, no money for books.  So, without commitment from the Premier, I wasn’t prepared to commit myself.  

I was therefore pleased last week when I heard on the grapevine that Victoria has finally put some money where its mouth is.  I say the grapevine because the announcement went to principals, not to library staff.  I promptly sent an email off to the contact person and received a reply directing me to this FAQ page.

That in itself was interesting, but most of all, it included a link to a brochure entitled “The Challenge : active, engaged readers“.

I could write for three days and not cover all the questions and discussion points that this document raises. In summary, it is (almost) perfect.  Here I was thinking all this time that the Victorian Education Department needed to be convinced of the importance of reading, and how it can impact all learning, and how to build a reading culture, and they already knew it!  Brilliant!

 Of course I say, almost perfect.  Care to guess why?  Yes, there is no mention of teacher librarians.  Any library staff, for that matter.  Actually, the word “library” only has four vague references.  In SIX pages!  Oh, it talks about “print rich environments” and “wecoming, student centred reading spaces” and the need to build a “varied and comprehensive resource collection”, but no mention of the practicalities of providing any of this.

It’s the PRC all over again, great in theory, but zero support.

But what about those Victorian PRC grants? Well, they are just one off payments.  Don’t expect it in 2009. 

Now we have received a grand total of $1154.04 for our 650+ students so I figure it’s around about $2.00 per student.  As the average cost of a paperback novel is now probably $20.00, I figure I’ll get around 60 books.  Better than nothing, but no real help.

Let’s hope these token payments end up at their intended destination.

As for the money disappearing into consolidated revenue, this would be typical in schools.  The bursar/business manager receives notice of the money; they don’t receive directions on where it goes so they put it into consolidated revenue.  At my school, getting the money into the right account is easy though, as they are keen for the money to be used for the designated purpose.  However, they timing could have been disastrous.  School council had just approved the budgets for 2008, and if it had been known that the money was there earlier, others would have argued that my budget should be cut by the equivalent amount.  That will be the kind of thing that will go on in some schools.  Consolidated revenue gets it in the end.  All accounting will show that the money was paid into library account, it just won’t show that the budget was cut.  Anyway, one way or the other I am happy that the money has arrived.  It’s a bonus and we intend to use it for the purpose it was given.  We may even have another crack at the PRC in 2008.

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7 01 2008
Reading role models « The Hub

[…] year the Premier sends out a list for the PRC, but is the Premier seen as a reader?  Is the school principal seen reading?  Are teachers seen […]

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