ACT schools without TLs are disadvantaged, Mr. Barr!

27 07 2011

The article in today’s Canberra Times by Breanna Tucker is a well considered description of our lack of faith in the awaited government response to the Inquiry report.  The recommendations themselves could have been much stronger to begin with.

Meanwhile, the article quotes the ACT DET  figures showing “that all but one ACT public high school has a qualified teacher-librarian and two-thirds of primary schools had one at least part-time.” Yet their 2008 survey with the AEU showed “almost 50% of primary schools do not have a qualified teacher librarian, although most have a teacher providing access to library resources for some of the time. A number of schools do not have any teacher employed to provide library services ” (AEU sub 113 to the Inquiry).  Has the situation improved so considerably??  Or is it once again a question of semantics regarding what a “qualified TL” might be? Principals had quoted the lack of available qualified TLs, and insufficient funding and staffing points as their reasons for not staffing qualified TLs.  Has this changed so considerably in 2 1/2 years?

The ACT Minister of Education, Andrew Barr, meanwhile, is able to wash his hands of the issue by stating that principals have been empowered to staff their schools as they please.  No mention of insufficient funds or lack of available trained TLs.  ACT DET should be offering the sorts of scholarships available in NSW from DET to place untrained personnel in tertiary teacher librarian courses. They should be providing the staffing points and the funding.

As the ACT AEU has stated in its submission to the inquiry:

Students enrolled at schools with a qualified teacher librarian who provides programs such as information literacy, promotion of reading, ICT skills and effective management of the library resources are advantaged. Consequently, those students at schools where there is no qualified teacher librarian are significantly disadvantaged in their access to successful literacy programs.

The article states that “The Australian Education Union has called on the ACT Government to make it compulsory for all schools to have a qualified teacher-librarian, at least part-time, as part of minimum staffing requirements.”

Public education should be about addressing disadvantage, Mr. Barr, and providing the best services for improving quality teaching and learning for all students.

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