Members of The Hub and the wider education and library communities are ecstatic that the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, has asked the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians to be reopened. The new House Standing Committee on Education and Employment will pursue publication of its report next year. After 12 hearings in state and territory capitals and 382 submissions, the previous committee had asked many hard questions about the decline of qualified teacher librarians in public schools. And they had been looking for answers.
Devolution of staffing along with insufficient budgets have caused principals in Victoria, Tasmania, ACT and South Australia government schools to opt for less expensive staffing options. Western Australia has never mandated primary teacher librarians. Queensland teacher librarians are increasingly being placed in classrooms, while the Northern Territory has teacher librarians in only 5% of its schools. Only NSW staffs all of its schools with trained teacher librarians.
Yet direct links have been found between school library staffing and funding and student academic achievement in over 60 international studies. In its inquiry submission, Softlink included its own survey results linking qualified teacher librarian staffing and funding with NAPLAN results. A strong correlation exists.
The federal government is well placed to provide national school library standards, as it has in the past. It can link resource funding of new BER libraries with the provision of qualified teacher librarians. It can collect data on school library funding and staffing and publish this on the My School site. It can fund research and leadership programs on the contributions of teacher librarians to educational outcomes. It can support the re-introduction of tertiary TL training programs and sponsor tuition. These are just some of the recommendations which we hope to see in the Committee’s final report.
Our public school children should not lose out. The Hub has also made a submission to the federal review of school funding which shows the discrepancies between government and non-government school library funding.
Parents can learn more about the value of teacher librarians and school libraries at our My School Library site.
for The Hub