Is there a future for school libraries in Australia?

2 11 2008

Posted by G. Phillips

The six states and two territories of Australia all have developed different staffing formulas which affect the way teacher librarians are placed in schools.

Victoria has put staffing directly into the hands of school principals. Principals are given a staffing budget and determine ultimately who will be hired. The school determines its own staffing priorities within that budget. Many schools in Victoria are without qualified teacher librarians.

SA has a staffing allocation at the moment in place since 1999. It places up to one full time TL in schools up to 500 students; 1.5 in schools to 650, and 2 TLs in schools over 650 students.

In South Australia, the state government wants to change the current teaching agreement which will dramatically affect teacher librarians. It wants to change the staffing formula allocation to the schools being funded “per student”. Schools would make local decisions about the numbers of teachers, executive positions and other staff in a school based on the ‘budget’ available for the school, placing staffing in the hands of principals.

NSW primary schools base TL staffing on number of students up to 170 (up to .4 TL), then the formula is based on the number of teachers, up to one full time TL in schools up to 18 teachers. Secondary schools have one full time TL for up to 1200 students, with increased staffing as enrollment increases.

According to the NSW Teachers Federation, the NSW government also wishes to put staffing in the hands of school principals.

With severe teacher shortages, the previous Western Australian government asked schools to identify all work currently performed by teachers which could be performed by public servants. As a consequence, teacher librarians would be at risk of being replaced by librarians without teacher qualifications and presumably paid at a cheaper rate.

Fortunately, the recent change of government in WA has seemed to put this off the agenda at the moment.

So, is there a future for teacher librarians?

Only if there is a demand for teacher librarians from parents, from unions, and from principals, because they know that teacher librarians can make a difference to student literacy and academic achievement.

Who will tell them?




3 responses

3 11 2008
Barbara Braxton

In the ACT, schools are given a bucket of staffing points based on the enrolment numbers. As long as principals meet the specified configuration of exec positions (so there remains a career path in the system) and adhere to maximum class size levels, they can use the rest ofthe points to employ whatever specialists they require. Employment of a teacher librarian is at their discretion.

In the primary sector, the tl is usually in the RFF role, and in the secondary sector it is not uncommon for them also to teach other subjects.

5 01 2009
Susanne Gervay

School librarians are the heart of a school providing a hub for teachers, students, parents, creating a home for literature, subjects, thoughts and ideas.

School librarians are the vital friends of kids and Australian children’s and young adult authors bringing them together – to explore our culture, promote independent thought and create a vibrant community.


13 04 2009

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