National Year of Reading demands action on school libraries

1 02 2012


46% of Australian adults have everyday literacy problems and industry, government and advisory bodies say it is holding us back economically.

2011 NAPLAN results have shown a growing gap between the top and bottom students in literacy results. In the most recent PISA survey, Australia was one of only five countries that recorded a drop in reading and maths. (See SMH article 24 Jan. 2012).

Softlink studies have shown for two years in a row the correlation between school library staffing and funding and NAPLAN results.

In this National Year of Reading, what will the state and federal governments do to improve school library staffing and funding and therefore literacy?

Peter Garrett tried to sing us the same old song in his response to the 2011 House Report of the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians that it isn’t a federal government responsibility.  This is almost laughable if it weren’t so hackneyed and a blatant lie.

Here are just some of the things the federal government can do as it has in the past and is doing now to influence education policy and programs in Australia.

  • Ensure the Productivity Commission Schools Workforce survey include collection of much needed data on school library staffing, funding and scheduling.
  • Provide scholarships, as it does in other specialist teaching areas, to support increased numbers of graduate teacher librarians to fill the nearly 3000 vacancies, especially in the new BER libraries.
  • Support the re-introduction of lost university teacher librarian training programs.
  • Implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendation for a clearinghouse for school leaders which will include vital decision-making information on the value of quality school library services in student learning and literacy.
  • Establish a national advisory body on school libraries and national guidelines and standards.
  • Ensure NPAs for quality teaching do not result in loss of the specialist teachers which support quality teaching.
  • Support longitudinal research into the relationship between teacher librarian training and staffing and student literacy and learning outcomes.
  • Promote inclusion in pre-service teacher education of a unit of study on collaborative teaching of information literacy and literacy with teacher librarian mentor for improved quality teaching.
The books are burning, Peter Garrett.  Time to sing a new song.



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