Over 90% of NT schools do not have qualified TLs

30 10 2011

Answers to Questions on Notice from Peter Chandler to the NT Minister of Education. February 2012.

The NT has 13 qualified TLs in 151 government schools.

From the NT Hansard  8/16/2011

Question from the Shadow Minister of Education.

Question Transcript – 08/16/2011
Nightcliff Middle School – Education Precinct and School Library


In June this year, you announced the establishment of the Nightcliff education precinct, designed to provide programs of academic excellence. Given that, can you confirm Nightcliff Middle School does not have a librarian and has had its library removed? Can you explain how removing a school library fits in with your government’s model of an education precinct?


Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I welcome the question because it gives me a chance to talk about the Nightcliff Middle School and its direction in becoming an ICT precinct. We have made it a precinct with Elizabeth Veel, well-known principal of Nightcliff Primary School, as the head of that precinct.

There is no doubt the school decided to go down this route of being an ICT centre and has entered into an important partnership with Apple for computers. I am not at liberty to talk about the quantum of the support Apple is giving the school because that is the way Apple wants it. However, I can tell parliament that each child in the later years at that school is issued with an iPad and each child starting off at that school is issued with a device. 

Decisions about librarians and libraries are decisions for schools and are made at the school level in consultation with school councils. I am not in the business of overturning decisions made by the leadership in schools in collaboration with the school council. This is clearly a direction taken by Nightcliff Middle School and I commend it. 

I was at the Principals Conference earlier this year and some young students spoke about this new age of ICT and said: ‘I invite you to come in to our world, the world of ICT’. 

That is the way things are going; kids can access material on the Internet – whole libraries on the Internet. The collection of the physical library at Nightcliff Middle School has been put in the classrooms. The school is actually two teachers over entitlement because of their submission and their work. It is up to the school, as we all know. Those of us who actually attend school council meetings know that schools, in collaboration with school councils, make those decisions. 

I advise you, member for Brennan, to go to Nightcliff Middle School. I will arrange a trip for you, and you can talk to the staff and the students yourself, as I have on several occasions. I believe you would be enthusiastic about the direction it has taken. The question is not appropriate for me, because it is a decision made by the school itself.


If you would like to thank Peter Chandler for his concern and give him more information for parliamentary debate about IT vs libraries you can email him on Peter.Chandler@nt.gov.au  The Education Minister, Bruce Burns, can be contacted at minister.burns@nt.gov.au.



4 responses

2 11 2011

Of interest in the UK book ownership report:

It is not a case of books being irrelevant now technology has superseded printed matter.
Children with no books of their own are less likely to be sending emails, reading websites or
engaging with their peers through the written word on social networking sites. Children who
grow up without books and without positive associations around reading are at a disadvantage
in the modern world.

Yet again, it is about disadvantage, the children at Nightcliff will be disadvantaged.

2 11 2011

As Mark Moran wrote on Forbes.com recently, “Many absolutely clueless administrators still believe that a search engine is an adequate substitute for a trained research teacher.” (Moran, 2010)

The future divide in Australian education will not be digital, it will be between the schools which can afford one or more teacher librarians, and those where students have to rely on Google.

Pity the disadvantaged students of Nightcliff Middle School.

2 11 2011

Dear Minister Burns,

I hope that the information I am forwarding to you is initiating further thought on the trading in of school libraries with IT for IT alone. Here is a bit more.
Thank you for your consideration.

Georgia Phillips

Each year in the US, Project Tomorrow conducts large surveys of K-12 teachers, students, administrators, parents, teacher librarians and technology coordinators. Their report this year (2011) found, “The role of the school librarian is increasingly focused around the use of digital content in the classroom. Librarians or media specialists in many schools have the responsibility for identifying, evaluating and recommending digital resources to teachers.

On one level, the school librarian is the “go-to” person to identify websites for classroom use (78 percent), create collections of resources for curriculum support (56 percent) and to find specific digital content, podcasts and videos to support classroom lessons (47 percent).

However, librarians are also enabling and empowering teachers’ skills with digital content – answering questions about technology tools (85 percent), participating with teachers in professional learning communities (66 percent) and training teachers how to locate and evaluate digital content (33 percent). With the increased variety and depth of the digital resources available for classroom use, the librarian is emerging as a critical player in enabling the use of these tools in the classroom, taking on the twin roles of cheerleader and exploration sherpa. ….

Bottom line for Trend 3: Teachers’ adoption of digital content in the classroom is being empowered by their administrators’ vision for learning, and enabled by the new role of the school librarian or media specialist as a partner in the process of identifying and evaluating appropriate tools to more fully engage students in the learning process…. In many ways, librarians and administrators hold the keys for empowering and enabling this student vision.”

2 11 2011

Dear Minister Burns,
Please allow me to send to you yet some further thoughts on books vs IT in literacy and learning.

Madelyn Travis discusses the place of school libraries in UK schools:
“Part of the problem, perhaps, is that outside of the education sector, mentioning the words “books”, “school” or “library” – let alone all of them in the same breath – causes people’s eyes to glaze over. It’s computers that are sexy – and certainly no one would wish to deny their immense value as an educational resource. Yet a single light bulb for an interactive white board costs some £350, while Booktrust’s School Book Spending Survey reveals that less than £10 per child per year was spent on books in nearly a third of UK primary schools in 2001-2002. The recommended figure is £53 a head. It’s likely that some headteachers are diverting their limited resources to computers because they’re getting the message that ICT is more important than books.

Certainly the impression received by researcher Steve Hurd of the Open University was of a tendency on the part of Ofsted inspectors to emphasise ICT at the expense of books, because, he believed, ‘the DfES has asked Ofsted to…ask schools to submit information on the currently favoured ICT spending, but not on books’. To put books and ICT into opposing corners is to ignore their potential if used together. Children who enjoy reading learn to think creatively, engage with ideas, encounter new worlds. Their regular exposure to correct spelling and grammar enables them to learn how to use language more easily. Think how much more effectively such students would be able to use the internet and how much someone without that grounding would miss out on. Of course new technology is important, but it’s obvious that books provide the foundations for a child’s educational future. Isn’t it?

Let’s look at the facts. Researchers at the Open University, Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University found that spending £100 per primary school pupil on books has a greater impact on average test scores across English, maths and science than the same amount spent on ICT or staffing. A series of statewide studies in the United States found that students at schools with better funded school libraries achieve higher than average test scores regardless of socio-economic factors and education levels among adults in the community.

Similarly, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that reading for pleasure had a positive effect on academic achievement, with children from poorer backgrounds who enjoyed reading performing better in tests than those from more affluent homes who did not read for pleasure. Perhaps those who remain unmoved by the idea of reading for fun will be convinced by the proven positive impact of reading on children’s test results.”

“So why not go further? Why not equip all school libraries with an adequate number of books and a qualified member of staff? Libraries are statutory in prisons. Why aren’t they in schools? Children of all ages need school libraries, and [teacher] librarians, who will help them to discover the books they will treasure for years to come. Books allow children to experience the magic of words well used and to acquire the power that comes with being able to use them effectively. Enable a child to love reading and everything else will follow. ”

Thank you again for your consideration,
Respectfully yours,

Georgia Phillips

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