Teacher Librarians Ramp Up Campaign

12 10 2011

See the latest Education Review and ring or email your federal MP today.

ACT NOW for Inquiry Report Response.

A teacher in WA has written to Perth members Stephen Smith and Julie Bishop:

To the Honourable Stephen Smith and Honourable Julie Bishop,

I am writing to you to encourage you to consider taking to cabinet the issue of Teacher Librarians in Australian Schools.  I was involved in writing a P&C submission to the House Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in 2010 which was included in the final report to Parliament (Giralang Primary School, ACT).  I have worked as a teacher-librarian for 2.5 of my 7 years of teaching in primary schools, here in WA and previously in the ACT.  I wish to encourage you to follow up on this issue as I, and many other educators, parents and advocates of schools, are disappointed at the lack of commitment to school libraries by individual schools, state Department of Education’s and the Federal Government, both currently and previously.

I call on the federal government to ensure that all Australian primary and secondary students have access to a school library and a qualified teacher librarian.

As it has done in the past, the federal government is in a position to influence state school library funding and staffing. To do this, it can:

  • collect national data on school library staffing, funding, and scheduling;
  • tie funding so that states can and must adequately staff and fund school library programs and services;
  • require that literacy programs and other national curricula should explicitly recognize the central role school libraries have in student achievement, literacy attainment, and preparation for post-secondary success;
  • develop national school library standards;
  • increase teacher librarian training positions in university programs.

The eleven report recommendations are not costly nor difficult and aim to advance student literacy and learning through the collection of data including a workforce gap analysis, extending programs for the training of teacher librarians, supporting Australian research similar to that overseas which has demonstrated the link between school library staffing, funding and scheduling with student achievement and literacy, lowering the cost of online databases for schools, and development of a national policy on information and digital literacy.

I would also like a body be set up to formulate up-to-date guidelines for school library staffing and funding as asked for in many of the 387 submissions. The government should also fund the placement of teachers in teacher librarian programs to meet the severe decline in numbers in most of our states and territories.

Lastly I ask you to show your commitment by signing the School Library Service Declaration at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/school-library-service-declaration.html

It is the responsibility of federal and state and territory governments to maximise educational outcomes for all Australian students through quality school library services with qualified staff.

Thank you for your consideration and support,

Dorothy Hepburn

(Primary School Teacher – Teacher Librarian)


______________________________________________________________________________ Another teacher librarian wrote in SA to his local MP (who was on the original House Inquiry committee). He will now try to follow up with a phone call.                                          

Dear Mr Zappia,

I call on the federal government to ensure that all Australian primary and secondary students have access to a school library and a qualified teacher librarian. It is important that the government acts now to respond to the Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools before the end of the year.

Personally, I am a qualified teacher librarian (M.Ed Teacher Librarianship) which means that not only can I teach comfortably within a classroom but as a Teacher Librarian I am able to work to ensure the valuable resources provided by state and Federal government funds are properly used within schools to achieve effective educational outcomes for students.

I live in Golden Grove and currently work at Paralowie School R-12 but have worked in many schools as a teacher and teacher librarian,  including Valley View Secondary School in the Makin electorate. Paralowie is a very large Reception to Year 12 school, and through the support of our principal we are lucky to have three qualified teacher libarians (two secondary, including myself, and one primary). The engagement of information, reading, literature and education within our school library (which we call a Resource Centre) that occurs across all year levels through the employment of qualified teacher librarians could not be replicated by a non-qualifed School Service Officer.

Unfortunately, our example at Paralowie is not the trend across Australia. Recently, I have heard that the teacher librarian at X will be retiring and at this stage will not be replaced next year. This is a very sad state of affairs, as the X Library was once one of the most well resourced and suitably staffed school libraries in South Australia. Similar misinformed actions have been occuring in the schools across Australia, where due to the lack of funds and support for school libraries, schools are ignorantly believing that Google will teach our students the information skills that they require in the 21st Century.

This is not about simply protecting our jobs as teacher librarians. Like many teacher librarians, I am more than qualified to teach in a classroom and have done so for over ten years. I have taught a wide range of students, subject areas and many diffferent and difficult schools across Adelaide and South Australia. My role of teacher librarian gives me the opportunity to connect valuable information and educational resources to students. As teacher librarian, I provide teachers with the best and most up-to-date resources and help teach valuable 21st Century research skills to students. Most recently this has occured with my support of the new SACE subject called Research Project. This is something that someone without the dual qualifications of teacher and librarian would not be able to do.

The eleven report recommendations are not costly nor difficult and aim to advance student literacy and learning through the collection of data including a workforce gap analysis, extending programs for the training of teacher librarians, supporting Australian research similar to that overseas which has demonstrated the link between school library staffing, funding and scheduling with student achievement and literacy, lowering the cost of online databases for schools, and development of a national policy on information and digital literacy.

I would also like a body be set up to formulate up-to-date guidelines for school library staffing and funding as asked for in many of the 387 submissions. The government should also fund the placement of teachers in teacher librarian programs to meet the severe decline in numbers in most of our states and territories. 

Lastly I ask you to show your commitment by signing the School Library Service Declaration at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/school-library-service-declaration.html

It is the responsibility of federal and state and territory governments to maximise educational outcomes for all Australian students through quality school library services with qualified staff.

Thank you for your consideration and support,

Adam Fitzgerald MEd. (Teacher Libarianship), Grad. Dip. Ed. BA.


A message from the heart

12 06 2011

From South Australian, Erica Jolley, to her network of academics:

I’m passing it (see message below) on to as many as are interested in seeing Australia not following the American way. In South Australia, all students are to have ‘portals’, not into their minds and hearts, into electricity and power grids, subject to breakdown – that’s the Budget leaflet from the Minister for DECS – We know we must stay connected to the technology which is driving the way the world operates but we narrow the options, we decrease avenues for learning when we focus so solidly on one avenue for the gathering of information. It is not even real learning.

Real learning is when heart and mind take in wonder, feel, touch, taste, smell, and begin to differentiate this from that in the world away from the screen and fingers on a keyboard. I listened to what is happening with Centra on the School of the Air. So many breakdowns in communication. So much frustration for children.

Libraries, in school, and in the communities, are the ‘safety net’. With so many more students of a multi-cultural background in our public schools, the roles of libraries as ‘safety nets’, and the role of teacher librarians as assistants to the wider range of avenues for students, teachers and members of the community – parents – is vital.

We need the Federal government to support the re-establishment of courses for Teacher librarians and to protect the libraries that still exist. Once the books, non-fiction books in the case of one school, and other media materials are dispersed, if they are documented and available in a subject area – if that has happened – their role in the interconnection of avenues of discovery and learning is lost. Sound education, not just the schooling of the young through mechanical ‘portals’, broadens the horizons, helps students to think through and concentrate on complex ideas as their capacity to learn, feel and understand develops.

Equity in education will demand that we fight for a broader vision, not just force students into a different kind of sausage factory. Please, everyone, make an effort to help the Federal government to see what is the ultimate cost if libraries and teacher librarians are allowed to be lost because Principals, through the Local Empowerment Policy, can decide they are ‘redundant’ in a ‘hi-tech’ world. We need action from the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, and from the Minister for Tertiary Education, Chis Evans, as well as action in the States and Territories.

Have a look at the item Ian Purcell sent me please. See what has been happening in USA. We have a tendency in this country to wonder where something went and valuing it when it is irretrievable. The report re School Libraries and Teacher Librarians did not push for action now. We do not need more reports. We need to protect the school libraries still in existence and bring in teacher librarians where they have been lost. And training takes time.

Thank you,  Erica Jolley,

Education/Health liaison, Australian Federation of Graduate Women-SA

On 10/06/2011, at 5:09 PM, Ian Purcell wrote: Erica, I thought you might be interested this article on Libraries as Safety Nets http://www.care2.com/causes/education/blog/libraries-are-part-of-the-safety-net-no-wonder-governments-hate-them/


From Georgia Phillips, 25 May 2011

On Monday and Tuesday, politicians from both sides of the House spoke in support of the School Library Inquiry Report in Parliament. Wonderful speeches, full of understanding and support….and all because of you who signed the petition and made submissions and appeared as witnesses!!

You can find the speech by Amanda Rishworth, Labor SA (current education cttee chair), who tabled the Report, and Deputy Chair Ramsay, Liberal, SA, in  Monday’s Hansard pages 11-13.  They were alloted 10 minutes. See <http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/dailys/dr230511.pdf>

They then referred the Report for further debate in the Main Committee.  Yesterday, 24th May,  more time was able to be alloted, and many of the original education committee members as well as current members  spoke eloquently of the plight of teacher librarians and the need for the recommendations. Here are some excerpts.

Karen Andrews, Liberal, Qld: “At a local level, I have seen the wonderful work done by teacher librarians as they work directly with students. I support their ongoing roles at school as they work directly with students. I support their ongoing roles at school and I will continue to support the schools in McPherson and especially the teachers, principals, headmasters, heads of school, students and teacher librarians.”

Alan Tudge, Liberal, Vic:”The library itself may have changed in terms of its focus and the technology and skills required; nevertheless it still has a very important place in Australia’s schools. Hopefully the recommendations arising from this inquiry will further enhance the importance of school libraries in Australia’s school systems.”

Sharon Bird, Labour, NSW: “I commend the chair, Amanda  Rishworth, the member for Kingston, for the work that has been done and all members of the committee in following up and  producing this final report. I do so in particular because the issue was originally brought to my attention as a result  of an online petition that had been running amongst teacher librarians. They were particularly concerned about the fact that in the digital age, for some reason—I think we gathered a lot of evidence that is reflected in this report about why this was happening—people were coming to the view that teacher librarians were not necessary in schools, where in fact quite the opposite could well be argued to be true.

With the depth, complexity and breadth of information available to young people today, they need an experienced navigator more than ever to assist them in assessing the source, the legitimacy and the value of information that they are accessing, in particular, online. It was something that, particularly  as a former teacher, caught my attention.”  READ HER ENTIRE SPEECH pages 105-106!!  Sharon Bird, as a former history teacher, DOES understand the issues and the need for qualified TLs.

Deborah O’Neill, Labor, NSW: “I come to this assessment of the inquiry and its report from the point of view of being a teacher myself. I have never been a librarian and I have always held  them in great esteem. The access that teacher-librarians have provided for my own children in the primary context has been a transformational learning experience…I recall, very fondly, a teacher-librarian who worked at my school during my secondary schooling….Without a framework that articulates the importance and the centrality of our teacher librarians and the work that they do, they become extremely vulnerable…There can be no possible way that it would ever be okay, not only for the students but for the teacher themselves, to put a poor teacher [into the library]…, regardless of whether they are delivering a curriculum or delivering critical digital literacy, critical thinking and critical  support for students in a teacher-librarian context inside a library. This goes to the heart of the professionalism that is required. The professionalism of the teacher librarians that I, along with my colleagues on the committee, took evidence from was absolutely outstanding. They deeply understand what a teacher librarian can bring to learning and to life outcomes for young people.”

Mike Symon, Labor, Vic: “We found that private sector schools overall greatly valued teacher librarians and used teacher librarians as a selling point to attract parents to their schools. It was a fairly simple argument that they put to us, and it came from many sources: having teacher librarians in our schools improves our results….Whereas some state systems were inclined to use teacher librarians as relief staff if a teacher was sick or could not attend class for some reason, that certainly was not the case in the evidence that we heard from the private schools. As a better qualified person than a ‘standard’ qualified teacher, if that is the right description, the teacher librarian has knowledge above and beyond, and to be put into a position where you can be called away from your job at any time to go and mind a class because someone is not available really undervalues the profession.” He included ALIA’s definition of a TL with an emphasis on information literacy.

“It was very interesting to hear that in many cases the role of a teacher librarian directly suited the role of a digital gatekeeper for information. I must say, I had not thought of that at the start of the inquiry, but by the end of the inquiry I was quite convinced that this is a new and expanded role for teacher librarians. It probably builds the case more than ever for having teacher librarians in greater numbers in as many schools as possible.”

Yvette D’Ath, Labor, Qld: “. I note the comment of the chair in the foreword of the report: The Committee was advised that Charles Sturt University’s second semester intake of students into its Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) had doubled in 2010, and, it was suggested that the publicity surrounding this inquiry may have been a factor in the increased numbers being attracted to the teacher librarian profession. If that is what this inquiry did, if it does nothing else, that is a fantastic result.”

“Recommendation 3 is: The Committee recommends that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority include statistical information about the breakdown of all specialist teachers, including teacher librarians, on the My School website.

This recommendation was made because it became clear that we do not know what specialist teachers we have in our schools. We found out in Queensland that you may have done a masters in teacher librarianship, you may be a specialist in this area, but when you register in Queensland as a teacher there is not even a category to identify yourself as a specialist in this area. That needs to be rectified. It also showed once again that we do not have consistency across the states. If we want consistent outcomes then we have to have consistency across the states on … I look forward to forwarding copies of this report out to those teacher librarians in the schools so that they can see what their effort to bring information to us has resulted in with these recommendations.”

See <http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/dailys/dr240511.pdf> Pages 103-110

I wholeheartedly agree with Mike Symon when he states, “I certainly recommend that report for reading by the wider public and especially the education sector.” It can be found at <http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_representatives_Committees?url=ee/schoollibraries/report.htm>

Congratulations all! Now its time to get our message to parents and other politicians!!

Georgia Phillips

Tell Your Union

20 03 2011

The new enterprise agreement between the Australian Education Union (AEU) in South Australia and the Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS) has bargained away guaranteed staffing of teacher librarians and counsellors in government schools.  It seems school support staff can now supervise students if a teacher is permanently housed nearby or teaching in the library. Some retiring teacher librarians are being replaced by teachers without library qualifications or not being replaced at all. Staffing is being eroded.  Where a primary school of 700 may have had the equivalent of 2.0 TLs, they may now have 1.  Where there was one, there may be none. Newly graduated TLs are not able to find positions.  TLs who were formerly able to plan collaboratively with classroom teachers, now may be required to provide non-instruction time for other teachers instead.  At least 7 high schools have reported not having any teacher librarian at all. In one case the high school now has no library.  In the previous staffing formulae every school was allocated teacher librarian time.  Even under that formula an estimated one third of school libraries were not staffed by qualified TLs or were understaffed. Now there appears to be no formula.

“It may be that schools see replacing teacher librarians with [School Support Officers] SSOs as an easy cost-cutting exercise, since SSOs are so much cheaper than dual qualified teacher librarians. This blatant exploitation of SSOs is an issue in itself. But even worse is that apparent economic considerations over-ride educational theory and espoused departmental policy. Foundations for the Future declares, ‘Student learning is at the heart of everything we do’. Replacing teacher librarians with SSOs actively works against this, since it is hard to extrapolate improved learning outcomes from such a move.” (Sue Spence, “Survey highlights major problems with library staffing,” AEU Journal, SA branch, 4 December 2002.)

Western Australian AEU is commencing its round of enterprise bargaining.  So is the NSW Teachers Federation. Are you having a say in your union?

Here is one letter to the SA AEU which may inspire you to do so.

Adelaide Hearing impressions Pt 2

15 07 2010

Session 3 of the Adelaide Hearing on 12 July (Transcript now available)
Witnesses: Dr Josephine HANISCH, Program Director, Researcher, University of South Australia
Education Services Australia (former Curriculum Corporation and Education.au) – Stacey HATTENSEN, , Senior Manager, Publications and Library Services, and Prue MITCHELL, Senior Education Officer
Julie WELLS, President, Children’s Book Council of Australia, South Australia Branch

Following opening statements, SB asked ESA if their services can be used by non-TLs. The reply indicated that untrained staff relied greatly on the help desk. (83% of Australia’s schools subscribe to SCIS.) The discussion ensued generally exploring the value a teacher librarian brings to the school and to learners. Dr. Hanisch spoke of the need for a chair in teacher librarianship to lift the profile, for research to inform public debate.

SB asked about the possibilities of working with the education faculty as QUT was keen to do. Jo supported working with Uni of SA ed school to look at double degree or other scenarios. SB tried to focus on pre-service teacher ed “Part of the issue which has been raised with this in terms of demand driving positions is that if you have a teaching body in a school who do not know how to utilise the library or the teacher librarian—which is scarily more common than we might like to think—that then breeds the school executives who do not value the library and the teacher librarian and over time we have seen that decrease. When I did my teaching qualification I do not remember doing anything about the library and the teacher librarian. That was a long time ago. I thought it may have changed; apparently it has not.”(p. 30)

Jo stated it would be more difficult at Uni of SA where ed faculties and teacher librarianship were separate schools. Sharon suggested that it might be timely to get more integrated.

Tony asked the witnesses about the lack of understanding of the TL role in education depts as well as DETs. General agreement.

Session 4
Friends of Libraries Australia, Dr Alan BUNDY, President;
Public Libraries South Australia: Judith CAMERON, Executive Committee Member, and Ms Bernie McSWAIN , Vice-President

Alan had only about 10 minutes as they were running behind. (He suspected, however, the chair has heard enough already to be able to identify the issues and at least some of the solutions.) He picked up on a previous comment from the Chair on the relationship between reading and gaming and offered to send a conference paper on the topic only recently raised in Australia. The Chair requested a copy.

Alan stated in his opening remarks that “At the moment—and this is the contention of FOLA—the states and the territories have not been held to account for a significant neglect of both the role of teacher librarians in school libraries and also the proper funding of the public library system, too much of which has been left to local government.” (p.35)

A discussion of a national consortium for bulk purchasing of data base subscriptions for schools, especially primary which don’t tend to be available in public libraries. One third of public library users are children and young adults and friends of libraries groups are good contacts for school libraries and P&Cs/P&Fs.

Alan commented on his recent trip to Spain where they had no TLs. He has recommended that they begin to develop the profession if they intend to have the joint use libraries they are looking at.

Sharon: “It is one of the ironies highlighted by many submissions that other countries are starting to look to our model and copy it and see its value at the same time that we might, sadly, be running it down. It is a timely message to end today’s session on, Alan.”

Adelaide hearing impressions Part 1

15 07 2010

These impressions can now be checked against the transcript.

Sharon Bird and Tony Zappia, SA MP, appeared for the Committee at the Hearing for the Inquiry into Teacher Librarians in Adelaide on Monday 12 July.

The committee pursued questions from previous hearings.
Session one was with Sue Hutley, ALIA Executive Director

As stated by DET witnesses in other hearings, can all teachers now teach IL so that TL’s IL specialty is superfluous? Sue addressed the resource management role of the TL. On copyright, Sue could not give any specific school based examples of issues. She did state that “recognising the importance of teacher librarians in Australian curriculum development is again a critical point that we would like the committee to recognise.”

Sue had no statistics on BER library staffing. Would like help collecting it.

In particular the committee hoped that ALIA might be able to give them some workforce statistics, but Sue could not provide any. It only has those available through the Australian School Library Research Project. It has no statistics on TL graduates or on gaps in the workforce. Difficulties are presented by the number of sectors and the perogatives now given to principals. Sue expressed the hope that the federal government could assist in the collection of workforce statistics.

SB and TZ discussed the need for Australian research. Softlink’s correlations may be a start. Sue agreed that research was needed. Tony asked Sue which state is best placed regarding TLs. Sue stated that NSW has the best policies, but “other states, though, also have expertise—Victoria has a very good working relationship between the department and the schools.” [GP: I assume this is about the Vic govt providing support for SLAV to take on its school library support responsibilities?]

On the issue of joint use libraries, Sue felt there were challenges and the need for looking at best practice.

On librarians working in teacher librarian positions, she stated any credentialed librarian is qualified to run a library. “In the pursuit of gaining an additional 3,000 teacher librarians somehow, we also hope that librarians from other sectors will see it as a career choice over time.” While ALIA has no workforce statistics on supply and demand for librarians, it does hope “to see some support in terms of scholarships and education options for qualified librarians to be able to become qualified teacher librarians in an easy way so that we can fill those spots with qualified librarians as well.”

Session Two
Joint Use Libraries Association: Mrs Margaret Mary HONAN, Chair, and Mrs Deirdre Jane MOLONEY, Representative of Joint Use Libraries Association Executive of Public Libraries
School Library Association of South Australia, Ms Sue JOHNSTON, Secretary, and Ms Nola Maureen UZZELL, National Councillor, ASLA; Vice-President Advocacy, SLASA

SLASA tabled their TL Role Statement and their TL survey of 2008. [This survey revealed 23 per cent of schools were not allocating teacher-librarians. The survey also showed 25 per cent of teacher-librarians intended to retire in the next five years and 89 graduates would be needed to replace them. Adelaide Advertiser 9 Apr 2010]

SLASA made it clear that there was no one, no structure or group, within the SA department of education responsible for school libraries. Nola went on to say that “Traditionally in South Australia, government schools have had a staffing formula with a teacher librarian allocation that has been over and above classroom teaching allocation. But in the recent enterprise bargaining agreement the government sought to have that removed. I guess that it is fair to say that it has been applied in various ways in schools as devolved responsibility has come about over the last few years.”

Sue Johnston went on to reinforce the recommendation of ALIA made earlier that there be a unit established in “DEEWR to coordinate the outcomes of this inquiry and for the establishment of policies and benchmarks for 21st century learning skills to move forward.”
Sue went on to list other excellent SLASA recommendations (Adelaide Hearing transcript pp 10-11).

Discussion ensued with the Joint Use witnesses about issues of funding, furnishing, child safety, toilets, hours, cybersafety and training. And especially the issue of getting trained TLs into remote schools.

Sharon Bird observed, “I think one of the things that are quite clear in the evidence is that we are in danger of losing something that could become even more significant and valuable in 21st-century schools.” (p 17)

Nola added that TLs are in a position “to look holistically at the learner, from the time they begin right through to the time they finish.” They can design a whole school curriculum in IL. See that IL skills are transferred across subjects and that new teachers are brought into the program for continuity. SB added that TLs are often “holders of corporate knowledge.”

SB remarked again that private schools seem to have better staffing, funding, virtual libraries, tutorial help. Nola and Sue gave examples of state schools developing virtual libraries and wikis, although this required training and often was done in TLs’ own time.

SB appreciated the witnesses submissions and stated

“The challenge from the federal perspective is not being the employing authority. The other side of the evidence is that independent-sector schools run purely by their own principals actually have some of the best practice. Whether it is the model or whether it is the messages and the leadership that go to principals in the sectors is something that we will have to explore.

It is interesting that today there is again evidence about the fact that one of the big selling points of the well-to-do independent-sector schools is their libraries, their staffing and those sorts of resources. At the same time we have got other sectors where it is dwindling and dying. I absolutely hear what you are saying in terms of the role of the teacher librarian and their utilisation and not having that get lost in the devolution of decision making.”

“The first port will be to find out who is actually employed and what qualifications they have, because our evidence today is that even that has not been kept anymore.”

Is there a future for school libraries in Australia?

2 11 2008

Posted by G. Phillips

The six states and two territories of Australia all have developed different staffing formulas which affect the way teacher librarians are placed in schools.

Victoria has put staffing directly into the hands of school principals. Principals are given a staffing budget and determine ultimately who will be hired. The school determines its own staffing priorities within that budget. Many schools in Victoria are without qualified teacher librarians.

SA has a staffing allocation at the moment in place since 1999. It places up to one full time TL in schools up to 500 students; 1.5 in schools to 650, and 2 TLs in schools over 650 students.

In South Australia, the state government wants to change the current teaching agreement which will dramatically affect teacher librarians. It wants to change the staffing formula allocation to the schools being funded “per student”. Schools would make local decisions about the numbers of teachers, executive positions and other staff in a school based on the ‘budget’ available for the school, placing staffing in the hands of principals.

NSW primary schools base TL staffing on number of students up to 170 (up to .4 TL), then the formula is based on the number of teachers, up to one full time TL in schools up to 18 teachers. Secondary schools have one full time TL for up to 1200 students, with increased staffing as enrollment increases.

According to the NSW Teachers Federation, the NSW government also wishes to put staffing in the hands of school principals.

With severe teacher shortages, the previous Western Australian government asked schools to identify all work currently performed by teachers which could be performed by public servants. As a consequence, teacher librarians would be at risk of being replaced by librarians without teacher qualifications and presumably paid at a cheaper rate.

Fortunately, the recent change of government in WA has seemed to put this off the agenda at the moment.

So, is there a future for teacher librarians?

Only if there is a demand for teacher librarians from parents, from unions, and from principals, because they know that teacher librarians can make a difference to student literacy and academic achievement.

Who will tell them?

Not a good news week

25 08 2008

It hasn’t been good news for school libraries around Australia in the last week.  First we hear of South Australia’s Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS) enterprise bargaining which threatens to implement full time face-to-face teaching loads for teacher librarians.  Then we read this story in The West Australian in which teacher librarians are set to be moved from their “non teaching” role to classroom positions. (what do TLs have to say about being described as “non-teaching”?)

Now we realise there’s a teacher shortage, so something has to change, but I have a different solution.  Let’s get rid of history.  Then all the history teachers can be used to make up the shortfall.  It’s not a very useful subject, and the only students who find it helpful are those who want to be history teachers, so it’s a win-win situation.

I could be wrong, but should this decision ever be made in an Australian state, I predict it would attract significant media attention, with criticism from all sides. Yet the redistribution of TLs is on the cards with barely a (media) whimper, despite the best efforts of the associations and unions.

One hubber makes the astute observation that the largest number of non-teaching teachers in schools may well be the principals and their deputies.  Perhaps that’s the answer?

This week we read of Victorian education minister Bronywn Pike’s plan to improve performance in low performing schools.  Send in relatively unqualified novices!  Genius or madness?  I suggest it fails to recognise many of the qualities that great teachers possess.  It’s fashioned on two overseas models, but I don’t know if there’s much evidence that it actually works. Meanwhile, the overwhelming evidence that libraries make a difference continues to be ignored. Victorians might like to pen a letter to Ms Pike this week, as I will be. In the meantime, I managed to get a few words in today’s Age newspaper.