Adelaide hearing impressions Part 1

15 07 2010

These impressions can now be checked against the transcript.

Sharon Bird and Tony Zappia, SA MP, appeared for the Committee at the Hearing for the Inquiry into Teacher Librarians in Adelaide on Monday 12 July.

The committee pursued questions from previous hearings.
Session one was with Sue Hutley, ALIA Executive Director

As stated by DET witnesses in other hearings, can all teachers now teach IL so that TL’s IL specialty is superfluous? Sue addressed the resource management role of the TL. On copyright, Sue could not give any specific school based examples of issues. She did state that “recognising the importance of teacher librarians in Australian curriculum development is again a critical point that we would like the committee to recognise.”

Sue had no statistics on BER library staffing. Would like help collecting it.

In particular the committee hoped that ALIA might be able to give them some workforce statistics, but Sue could not provide any. It only has those available through the Australian School Library Research Project. It has no statistics on TL graduates or on gaps in the workforce. Difficulties are presented by the number of sectors and the perogatives now given to principals. Sue expressed the hope that the federal government could assist in the collection of workforce statistics.

SB and TZ discussed the need for Australian research. Softlink’s correlations may be a start. Sue agreed that research was needed. Tony asked Sue which state is best placed regarding TLs. Sue stated that NSW has the best policies, but “other states, though, also have expertise—Victoria has a very good working relationship between the department and the schools.” [GP: I assume this is about the Vic govt providing support for SLAV to take on its school library support responsibilities?]

On the issue of joint use libraries, Sue felt there were challenges and the need for looking at best practice.

On librarians working in teacher librarian positions, she stated any credentialed librarian is qualified to run a library. “In the pursuit of gaining an additional 3,000 teacher librarians somehow, we also hope that librarians from other sectors will see it as a career choice over time.” While ALIA has no workforce statistics on supply and demand for librarians, it does hope “to see some support in terms of scholarships and education options for qualified librarians to be able to become qualified teacher librarians in an easy way so that we can fill those spots with qualified librarians as well.”

Session Two
Joint Use Libraries Association: Mrs Margaret Mary HONAN, Chair, and Mrs Deirdre Jane MOLONEY, Representative of Joint Use Libraries Association Executive of Public Libraries
School Library Association of South Australia, Ms Sue JOHNSTON, Secretary, and Ms Nola Maureen UZZELL, National Councillor, ASLA; Vice-President Advocacy, SLASA

SLASA tabled their TL Role Statement and their TL survey of 2008. [This survey revealed 23 per cent of schools were not allocating teacher-librarians. The survey also showed 25 per cent of teacher-librarians intended to retire in the next five years and 89 graduates would be needed to replace them. Adelaide Advertiser 9 Apr 2010]

SLASA made it clear that there was no one, no structure or group, within the SA department of education responsible for school libraries. Nola went on to say that “Traditionally in South Australia, government schools have had a staffing formula with a teacher librarian allocation that has been over and above classroom teaching allocation. But in the recent enterprise bargaining agreement the government sought to have that removed. I guess that it is fair to say that it has been applied in various ways in schools as devolved responsibility has come about over the last few years.”

Sue Johnston went on to reinforce the recommendation of ALIA made earlier that there be a unit established in “DEEWR to coordinate the outcomes of this inquiry and for the establishment of policies and benchmarks for 21st century learning skills to move forward.”
Sue went on to list other excellent SLASA recommendations (Adelaide Hearing transcript pp 10-11).

Discussion ensued with the Joint Use witnesses about issues of funding, furnishing, child safety, toilets, hours, cybersafety and training. And especially the issue of getting trained TLs into remote schools.

Sharon Bird observed, “I think one of the things that are quite clear in the evidence is that we are in danger of losing something that could become even more significant and valuable in 21st-century schools.” (p 17)

Nola added that TLs are in a position “to look holistically at the learner, from the time they begin right through to the time they finish.” They can design a whole school curriculum in IL. See that IL skills are transferred across subjects and that new teachers are brought into the program for continuity. SB added that TLs are often “holders of corporate knowledge.”

SB remarked again that private schools seem to have better staffing, funding, virtual libraries, tutorial help. Nola and Sue gave examples of state schools developing virtual libraries and wikis, although this required training and often was done in TLs’ own time.

SB appreciated the witnesses submissions and stated

“The challenge from the federal perspective is not being the employing authority. The other side of the evidence is that independent-sector schools run purely by their own principals actually have some of the best practice. Whether it is the model or whether it is the messages and the leadership that go to principals in the sectors is something that we will have to explore.

It is interesting that today there is again evidence about the fact that one of the big selling points of the well-to-do independent-sector schools is their libraries, their staffing and those sorts of resources. At the same time we have got other sectors where it is dwindling and dying. I absolutely hear what you are saying in terms of the role of the teacher librarian and their utilisation and not having that get lost in the devolution of decision making.”

“The first port will be to find out who is actually employed and what qualifications they have, because our evidence today is that even that has not been kept anymore.”

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2 responses

29 07 2010
Pauline

Great to see specific examples. Thanks fro all the hard work

29 07 2010
hubinfo

Thanks, Pauline. But if quoting, go to the transcripts, ok? 🙂

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