Approached by one TL to support her inquiry submission (and doing so), the member for Hindmarsh, Steve Georganas, now pledges support to another TL constituent:
“Please rest assured that I am keenly aware of the need for appropriate support for teacher librarians in schools and if elected would be happy to write to the Committee Secretariat on your behalf to urge the release of the report.”
Two letters on the same issue is a barrage for candidates and members!
Here’s what the second TL wrote:
I am concerned that there will be an increasing lack of trained teacher-librarians in our schools. Many of our teacher-librarians are close to retirement age and there are no places in SA to train as a teacher-librarian. Many of our schools do not have librarians. It concerns me that this could lead to having staff not specifically trained maintaining libraries rather than leading library programs. I have taught in schools without teacher-librarians and noticed the relative poor resources, the lack information literacy skills in print and electronic sources, and unfortunately the gradual diminishing of resources.
Over 60 international studies have shown that qualified teacher librarians make a difference to student literacy and learning. Students read more. Test results improve. Students learn how to learn.
At least one third of Australia’s schools do not have qualified teacher librarians. In South Australia 25% of schools don’t have a TL. NSW has them theoretically in every school. Queensland staffs TLs but many are increasingly not in the library. ACT school library staffing is in decline. Tasmania may have TLs in 50% of their schools, though they are increasingly untrained. In Victoria at least 35%. WA has barely any TLs in their primary libraries which are often open only a few hours a week. The NT possibly has TLs in one in twenty government schools, most unqualified. There is no state or national data collected, so these figures come from professional association surveys.
The federal government has a role to play in establishing standards for equity.
The federal government has a role to play in highlighting information literacy skills, as well as digital skills, in the National Curriculum.
New BER libraries are worth little without qualified staff. New laptops are worth less without the skills of locating and critically analysing information from databases as well as the surface web.
If we really want to improve literacy and learning, we need to increase teacher librarianship training programs and sponsorship of places. We need all school leaders to understand the valuable role of teacher librarians. We need teacher education programs that demonstrate to teachers the benefits of collaboration with teacher librarians. We need explicit recognition in national policies, partnership agreements and curriculum of the central role of school libraries in student achievement, literacy attainment and preparation for post-secondary success.
A federal Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians has just held nationwide hearings. The committee has taken evidence on the above and more. When government resumes, we call on you to help expedite the committee Report and its recommendations.
All Australia’s students deserve 21st century school libraries staffed by qualified teacher librarians.
Will you stand up for the profession of teacher librarianship and its value in building a literate and information literate nation? Will you include a statement of support in your education platform for well-staffed 21st century school libraries for Australia’s students?<
Sue Whittaker, Address included