Perth Hearing notes

16 07 2010

13 July 2010 These are personal notes. The transcript is now available.

Inquiry House Cttee members present: Sharon Bird, Dr. Dennis Jensen, Steve Irons

Session One
Witnesses: WASLA – Val Baird; Edith Cowan University – Barbara Combes; Ms. Anette Ainsworth

Anette explained in her opening statement how she had moved from the public to the private sector in order to continue working as a TL. She is concerned about the huge inequities in the sectors. Library services have decreased yet the need for these services has increased with increase of technology. The shortage of TLs and teachers training to be TLs is due to lack of incentive – no jobs at end – and now there are not enough TLs to fill advertised positions. TLs are usually part of middle management in the independent schools.

Databases are expensive and, even with consortia, most state schools have limited budgets. These students don’t have access as do their counterparts in private education. Some state schools are operating with a budget of $1000!
In short: State schools don’t’ have adequate staff, resources and funding.

There followed a discussion of Gen Y’s real lack of search and critical thinking skills (BC’s research). Need to be taught along with ethical use and copyright from primary level. Searching databases different from search engines. Need for skills in creating new meaning from information Teachers need the expertise of TLs.
Anette gave example of own school’s results of test of beginning students at their secondary school. Came from a variety of feeder schools- state and independent. Tested a number of facets. Most didn’t achieve above 35% for Inquiry Process. Those that did usually came from a school with a TL in the library. [GP: Anything published on this???]
Barbara: ECU is introducing a compulsory unit for all undergrads: Communications in an IT environment, to address skills gap in new students. Part of unit will cover ‘How to search for information’.
Again, Sharon Bird asks why the independent sector make their excellent libraries a selling point, while govt school principals try to eliminate TLs. [GP Where does such ignorance come from? Self-delusion? Direction from above? Some outside influence? This IS a question which requires answering.]

Anette: Librarians and library officers do not know the curriculum. WATLNET listserv has become in practice a forum for library officers seeking help. [GP: I’ve wondered this about OZTLnet also.]

Dr Dennis Jensen (DJ): Believes ‘flexibility’ (of staffing) is code for “TLs no longer required.’” Addressed question to Barbara regarding the inequities in TL course structures:
Edith Cowan University
Master of Education 8 units – 120 points – 2 semesters
Master of Information Services (Teacher Librarianship) 11 units – 3 semesters full time

Charles Sturt University
Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) 8 units – 2 semesters full time
Queensland University of Technology
Master of Learning Innovation (Teacher Librarianship) 8 units – 2 semesters full time
This is a disincentive to study TL’ship at ECU. Any discussion on this?

Barbara: Accepted differences. Course is research based – loathe to dumb it down. Some arguing to and fro ensued. [GP: Do we have published research as a result?]

SB: Problem that message in Grad Dip qual is a devaluing of TL’ship. Doesn’t drive reform in Teacher Ed courses. ECU cutting their nose to spite their face. Students will go elsewhere.

Barbara: Been trying to open conversation with Teacher Ed at ECU for years.

DJ: Vilification of Google can be counter-productive. Google scholar is good. Cost of databases?

Anette: 25% of her budget goes to databases. World Book alone is $1500. It has various levels of reading access. Cost of most databases on basis of ratio per head of student population. ERA or WA based consortia can get them a little cheaper.

Session 2
Children’s Book Council of Australia (WA Branch) – Jan Nichols and Lefki Kailis / writingWA – Alison Sutherland, Director of WA State Library

Lefki Kailis: Reading for pleasure encourages literacy and contributes to the mind and imagination. Impact it makes on learning and critical thinking is underestimated.

Alison: Described State Library Better Beginnings program which has been going for 3 years. By product – encouraging literacy skills in parents.

SB: Why do you think ed depts have not made the connection between research and testing results and school libraries?

Lefki: Principal is the key factor. If principals don’t see library and TL as crucial and speak in those terms to staff, then the library is marginalised. Key about TL training: it is holistic, across the curriculum, transferable skills. Literature component prepares TLs to address particular students and particular needs. TL focusses on both development of student and skills.

DJ: New teachers don’t now what TLs do or can offer. Would you comment on necessity of increasing the profile of the TL within the community? TL’ship a dying profession – a lot to do with Depts but there is an element in which the TL profession needs to take responsibility. What have their professional bodies done to promote the profession? Why are TL Uni courses not attracting students?

Lefki: WASLA – Does PD (Professional Devt) but failing in PR. With coming of technology, TLs were at the cusp. Because the embrace of technology has been so whole-hearted, technocrats are now replacing TLs. TL must have both skills – literature and technology.

Collaboration between public and school libraries discussed. Steve Irons asked about programs in schools that involve parents in reading which were then discussed.

Session Three
Western Australian Local Government Association – Michelle Poepjes

Michelle: Spoke very quickly but the gist was that she was not supporting school libraries as such but rather combined-use community libraries. 232 public libraries with wide variety of resources and services including online tutoring. Thought BER funding that has gone into school libraries would have been better spent in building stronger partnerships between public libraries and schools.

SB: Situation in WA re shared libraries? Issues? Location of shared libraries is often an issue. Time lost from teaching if not on school grounds so teachers opt not to take students to library. TLs employed under Teachers’ Award; librarians under Local Government Award.

Michelle: Yes, this can cause friction and has. Positive outcomes are personality based.

Discussion of staff qualifications, problems with the Better Beginnings program, ECU research on same, the need for public librarians to assist the public in navigating the websites, including government ones, and the potential value of nationally purchased databases.

Session Four
Catholic Primary Principals’ Association (W.A.) – David Barns and Tim Emery

David: We represent 130 principals across the State in schools ranging from 10 students to 700. Conducted a survey on TLs and 72 principals responded. General consensus that:
• For the future, TLs very important but flexibility in staffing should remain
• Role of TL needs to evolve
• There are limited training opportunities
• Support from govt is necessary
• BER highlighted lack of appropriate staff in primary school libraries.

Sharon asked why only independent school principals seemed to value TLs. Replies included fact that TL role includes DOTT (RFF) so role constrained, lack of supply.

Tim stated that teachers can teach IL and research skills.
SB replied “I don’t believe that!” When asked what he knows about the research, David replied he was unaware of it.

A discussion followed of difficulties of staffing country schools, TLs’ wish for part-time, lack of scholarships from CEO (as in Brisbane) to train TLs. Unable to give figures on number of qualified TLs in Catholic schools, no requirement to staff a TL, no role description, teacher lack of understanding, existence of ASLA standards.

SB stated that systems have lost leadership.

Session Five
Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia Libraries Inc. – Penny Worthington and Robin Wake

The uniqueness of the TL role was discussed, cross-curricular and flexible – great potential. Most teachers let kids cut and paste. No time or knowledge of teaching guided inquiry and critical questioning. Teachers who collaborate develop innovative programs. Benefits of prac students being brought to the library.

Penny and Robyn spoke about their own experience with supportive principals and networks and lack of support in DETs. SB said it was sad when any system relies on volunteers for its quality.

AISWAL was unable to get details about qualified staffing in their canvassing of schools. Both TLs had Head of Dept status, one had a role statement.

WA Department of Education – Andrew Thompson (Acting Director of School Support Programs). Accompanied by Sue Lapham (Director of Services, Dept of Training and Workforce Development) and Jean Anning (Acting Coordinator, CMIS, WestOne Services, Dept of Training and Workforce Development

Generally an unsatisfactory session in that no stats were provided on qualifications of the 70 TLs said to be employed, no awareness of research just reiteration of the principal’s right to flexible staffing. Principals dependent on online curriculum support and resource information bank in their decision-making. Nothing to contribute regarding the TL’s role in literacy programs. Stated IL embedded in WA Curriculum Framework, with some measurement of outcomes in Years 11 and 12 through WACE courses. No evidence of continuum of skills being taught. SB reiterated that students are entering uni without the necessary information skills.

DJ Your Dept expresses support for TLs but it doesn’t seem to be real. 1 TL for every 10 schools would indicate the Dept doesn’t believe in TLs.

AT refuted this. Decisions are being made by principals but there are supply and demand issues. He didn’t know if there was a role statement or if TLs could register through WACOT.

DJ stated that these decisions are being made without adequate knowledge of research and role and without any strategies from DET to promote the use of TLs in schools.

AT That is possible. Anything to increase awareness would be a good thing.

There was a to and fro between SB and AT about funding and advice for literacy and numeracy and implementation of programs within individual schools.
AT argued that principals do this…
SB rejoindered that a principal doesn’t have time to implement programs. Further discussion of who teaches information literacy and how it is not assessed.

Questions were left with DET to forward responses as time ran out.




3 responses

18 07 2010
Catherine Hainstock

Thanks for continuing to post these summaries. I don’t always have the time to read through the entire hearing notes but certain points within your summaries peak my interest and send me off to read more in-depth.

18 07 2010

Thanks Cathy. I’ve been happy to have the help of other Hubbers with this. A real challenge trying to summarize. Now to try and summarize ALL the hearings!!

22 07 2010
Elli Klajn

Google cannot replace qualified teacher librarians who teach information literacy. The following example shows this all too clearly.

Skills in Information literacy ARE a matter of life and death and Google can spread lethal misinformation. I have just read in this months issue of Cosmos (Aug/Sep, issue 34, p.72-76 and editorial on p. 5) how measles and whooping cough have made a reappearance in Australia and are spreading because increasingly parents are not immunizing their children. Recently three babies have died from whooping cough. Measles can also be lethal or very debilitating causing brain damage and blindness.

The authors of the Cosmos article lay the blame squarely on Google. ‘And is it any wonder so many parents are confused about vaccination, when 43% of Google results to a search for ‘vaccintation’ and immunisation delivers sites that campaign against immunisation or portray vaccination as dangerous, as a University of Sydney study has found? Many sites try to present themselves as credible scientific bodies, yet they refer to self published work or incomplete references.’ (Cosmos 34,p.75)

Our society desparately needs to learn to critically evaluate information. This example shows the extent to which these skills are lacking in the general population and the consequences.

Tragically, failing to support school libraries and teacher librarians who are specialist in information literacy, will have more serious affects than lower Naplan scores.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: