Report “Gap Analysis”: Training

29 05 2011

Time for a closer look now at the Teacher Librarian Inquiry Report

and where it falls short. We will start with Training.

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.

21st Century School Libraries Need 21st Century TLs

4 02 2009

I was possibly one of a few who caught the PM’s “fireside chat” announcing the latest economic stimulus package. Everyone else, including my husband, was rightly still at the beach.  And I surely was one of a small minority who let out a whoop when school libraries were mentioned!!  Now that the dog and I have settled down, memory nags.  Didn’t something like this happen back in the 70s?  Some 1200 new secondary libraries were built by 1977 with Commonwealth grants, following intense lobbying by ASLA, LAA (now ALIA), ALPC, state government and other groups and individuals. 

I can tell you it was an exciting time to be visiting new NSW school libraries armed with that powerful departmental furniture catalogue!!

Yet a survey of all state and territory supervisors of school libraries at that time found that by 1978 there were only some 3500 qualified (at least the equivalent of one term full-time training in school librarianship) teacher librarians in Australia, although 5000 more were needed to meet the standards outlined in the Schools Commission’s standards, Books and Beyond.  

Since then, no one is even keeping track.  The federal government can not tell you how many TLs there are in school libraries. How many “state and territory supervisors of school libraries” even exist anymore to ask? ALIA can not tell you how many TL graduates there are in Australia. ASLA can not tell you how many TLs are needed to be trained to staff Australia’s 6,853 (2007 figures) government schools to their professional standards. State departments of education don’t even distinguish between classroom teachers and teacher librarians in their staffing statistics. So they can’t tell you which schools have no teacher librarians, let alone what training their TLs might have.

Yet there IS anecdotal evidence and some preliminary data which shows that all too few Australian primary school libraries are staffed to professional standards. For example, possibly up to half the primary schools in Victoria do not have teacher librarians. The Northern Territory has very few professionally trained primary teacher librarians and none in remote schools, and government primary schools in Western Australia are not staffed with teacher librarians.

So we ask the question (updated) which was asked in the 1970s:

What use are 21st century primary school libraries if they are not staffed by 21st century teacher librarians?

Today might be a good day to ask a state senator (click for sample letter and suggested email addresses).