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Time to boost secondary library funding

Media Release

28 March 2006

Time to boost secondary library funding

The Government urgently needs to boost funding for secondary school libraries to improve students’ literacy, research and ICT skills, PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti said today.

Her call follows an Education Review Office report that says secondary schools’ information literacy programmes are of uneven quality. While the report commends most schools, it says 30 per cent of secondary schools had ‘less effective practice’ in their school libraries. In many of these, libraries were not adequately staffed, library staff were untrained and the roles of some staff were not clear.

Te Whaiti said PPTA had passed recommendations at its conference last year calling on the Government to centrally fund the staffing of trained teacher librarians, qualified librarians and library assistants.

“ERO’s findings are consistent with what many secondary librarians have been telling us,” Te Whaiti said.

“Though a majority of schools have marvelous libraries well run by trained professionals, too many are still forced to rely either on a part-time teacher or an enthusiastic volunteer to run their libraries because the operations grant money doesn’t make ends meet and gets eaten away by other school projects.

“If the Education Ministry expects schools to improve the general, and information, literacy skills of students then the government has to ensure schools are funded to employ qualified staff to achieve this.

“Schools need a qualified librarian to manage the library resource, to catalogue and buy print materials and to work with students to access the relevant print and Internet resources for their projects.

“They also require a trained teacher librarian to work in tandem with subject teachers to plan research units, teach students and teachers about information literacy, work with students to find relevant resources, and even undertake joint marking of research assignments.”

Te Whaiti also said library annual budgets for print and other resources for schools ranged from a pitiful $2000 to a respectable $30,000, and seemed dependent on schools’ ability to fundraise.

Te Whaiti noted that under current legislation, ERO expected each school would provide a library adequate for the needs of its students, but schools were currently under no legal obligation to have one.

“EROs findings back overseas and New Zealand research which says that academic achievement improves if you have a well-resourced and well-staffed library.

“It’s time for the Government to make it mandatory for all secondary and area schools to have a well resourced and staffed library.”

ENDS

The ERO report referred to is called Student Learning in the Information Landscape and can be viewed at www.ero.govt.nz.


Fact sheet: Key PPTA recommendations at Annual Conference 2005 in relation to libraries:

1 That it should be mandatory for all secondary and area schools to have a well resourced and staffed library.

2 That secondary and area school libraries are staffed according to the following ratio:
a) That the position of full-time trained teacher-librarian be restored in all secondary and area schools.
b) A base staffing allowance of one full-time teacher tagged for the appointment of trained teacher-librarian for all secondary and area schools, and a further 1 FTTE of tagged teacher-librarian staffing for every additional 500 students.
c) Every school has a qualified librarian.
d) There should be library assistants for all schools based upon an entitlement of 0.6 Assistants for the first 500 students, 0.4 for the next 200 students and a further 0.2 Assistants for every additional 100 students.
e) That tagged funding is provided for the employment of a qualified librarian and library assistants (based on 1500 hours per year).

3 That secondary and area school libraries be funded as follows:
a) Tagged funding at a rate of $30.00 per student for print resources, and this rate be adjusted according to the cost of living index.

4 That the PPTA call on the Ministry of Education in consultation with the National Library of New Zealand School Services and SLANZA to accredit and fund:
b) Three library software packages which meet agreed library software standards, and
c) The technical support for each software package.

5 That schools are funded to provide their library team members with the following professional development opportunities:
a) Professional development funding for library team members equivalent to that provided for teachers.
b) Attendance at an accredited refresher course for their trained teacher-librarian(s) once every five years

6 That secondary and area schools are funded, by way of a direct grant, to:
a) Establish and maintain school archives/records and,
b) Appoint an archivist or record manager.

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