Time for a closer look now at the Teacher Librarian Inquiry Report
Some 3000 positions are currently unfilled by qualified teacher librarians (ASLA, Canberra Transcript).
If QUT graduates an estimated 50 TLs/year and Charles Sturt University graduates approximately 100 TLs/year (half in the Masters program, half with the Graduate Certificate), how many years will we need to fill these positions? And that’s not taking into account the many TLs reaching retirement. (I did not find statistics for Edith Cowan University in the transcripts.)
“DEEWR stated that the supply and demand for university courses is a matter for the tertiary sector and not for the Government to determine” (Report p. 75).
Yet, recently the government influenced the training of Early Childhood Educators directly by providing scholarships.
Training needs for teacher librarians have been left, however, in the Report to Peter Garrett as Minister of Education to initiate a dialogue. Recommendation 9 suggests he “establish a national dialogue, including with tertiary providers, on the role of teacher librarians today in schools and into the future. The dialogue should include an examination of the adequacy of the pathways into the profession and ongoing training requirements.” This would happen through Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs.
A “National Dialogue” has been used for Universal Housing Design. It has “representatives from all levels of government, and key stakeholders groups.” A Secretariat has been provided for this.
We will have to see if this recommendation is taken up and, if so, how. Meanwhile 10-15% of Queensland and Victorian government schools do not have qualified teacher librarians, 87% of Victorian primary schools, 23% in SA, 50% in the ACT, 67% in Tasmania, 90% in WA, and 95% of government schools in the NT. While NSW still mandates TL staffing in all government schools, The Hub has new information which suggests that while NSW theoretically staffs qualified TLs in all schools, there could be dozens of unfilled positions or positions filled by untrained teachers, some of this due to National Partnership Agreements.
Presumably, the recommended Workforce Gap Analysis (Recommendation 8 ) would also be needed to contribute to this dialogue. Current analysis, Staff in Australian Schools, is based on principal perceptions. We have a long wait ahead for training to meet demand with all Australian students provided with access to the services of a qualified teacher librarian, supported by qualified staff.