The federal inquiry: where are we up to?

24 02 2011

The Federal House Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools has been resumed.  The re-constituted House education committee (now called the House Standing Committee on Education and Employment) is finalizing its report.

In fact, the new chair was quoted in the committee’s last media release: “Announcing the inquiry, Committee Chair Ms Amanda Rishworth, MP, said, ‘The Committee is very pleased that this matter will be revisited by the new Education Committee. Teacher librarians make a significant contribution in our schools and we look forward to sharing our findings on how to enhance this valuable community resource. ‘”

The committee will still take submissions. They hope to have a draft completed by the end of this autumn session and before the budget session. Your submissions might include updates on changed situations, such as that in South Australia where principals are now given carte blanche when it comes to staffing under the new state award.

Under such conditions, Victoria has only 13% of its primary schools staffed with teacher librarians.  If you are in a state school or are a state school supporter, you should be fighting for a dying profession and making your views known to your state AEU branch or association.

The AEU’s latest poll asks how you think school funding should be spent if public education funding were increased. Specialist teachers such as teacher librarians are not mentioned.  It makes you think they haven’t paid any attention to the inquiry and its strong message.  If you wish to let them know how you feel email aeu@aeufederal.org.au

If you are in Victoria or South Australia (or any state or territory!) you should be writing to your federal member and to your state member to urge them to renew the profession and to stop the extinction. There must be strong national and state school library standards. Teacher librarians must be visible in policies and programs which acknowledge their explicit value, with adequate support staff and funding, to student literacy and academic achievement.

Australia has been a world leader in having dual qualified professional staffing in its government school libraries.  Now NSW is the only state left to do so.  Federal National Partnership Agreements threaten TLs even in that state.

The Hub calls on our national and state professional associations, unions, childrens writers and book councils, parents associations and all teachers and teacher librarians and their supporters to come together in a national campaign. Now, before the budget session, and BEFORE the report recommendations are made, is the time to act for

A Qualified Teacher Librarian in Every School!

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