On Monday 23 May 2011, the House Standing Committee on Education and Employment tabled its report on the inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools entitled “School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia“. The Committee has been called upon to inquire into and report on the role, adequacy and resourcing of school libraries and teacher librarians in Australia’s public and private schools. This is the first ever federal parliamentary inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australia. A full copy of the 180-page report is available here. Briefly, the report focused on the:
- impact of recent federal government policies and investments in school libraries and their activities;
- future potential of school libraries and librarians to contribute to improved educational and community outcomes, especially literacy;
- factors influencing recruitment and development of teacher librarians;
- various partnerships that can support and strengthen school libraries;
- impact and potential of digital technologies to enhance and support the roles of school libraries and librarians.
It also highlighted the concerns raised by teacher librarians, and accentuates the significant contributions that school libraries and teacher librarians are making to learning outcomes in primary and secondary schools. The following are the recommendations made to the Commonwealth Government:
Recommendation 1 – that the Commonwealth Government partner with all education authorities to fund the provision of a core set of online database resources, which are made available to all Australian schools.
Recommendation 2 – that the Commonwealth Government work with the states and territories to develop a discrete national policy statement that defines the importance of digital and information literacy for learning in the 21st century, which can be used as a guide by teachers and principals.
Recommendation 3 – 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.
Recommendation 4 – that the Commonwealth Government support additional initiatives to promote reading, such as a National Year of Reading. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations should collaborate with the Australian School Library Association, Australian Libraries and Information Association and other education stakeholders in developing these initiatives.
Recommendation 5 – that the Commonwealth Government initiate an Australian-based longitudinal study into the links between library programs, literacy (including digital literacy) and student achievement, including their impact on improving outcomes for socioeconomically disadvantaged students.
Recommendation 6 – that the Commonwealth Government support promotional activities undertaken by ASLA and ALIA that demonstrate to the school community the valuable work that teacher librarians are doing in respect of e-learning in their schools, including those that highlight their leadership capacity.
Recommendation 7 – that the rollout of the new national curriculum, which is to be made available online, include a component of training for teacher librarians.
Recommendation 8 – that the Commonwealth Government commission a thorough workforce gap analysis of teacher librarians across Australian schools.
Recommendation 9 – that the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, 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.
Recommendation 10 – that the Commonwealth Government, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood and Youth Affairs, discuss ways to enhance partnerships with state and territory and local levels of government to support school libraries and teacher librarians.
Recommendation 11 – that the Commonwealth Government partner with ASLA and ALIA to produce a document that showcases some of the successful partnerships and programs between school libraries and other libraries, and joint-use libraries. The document should be made available to government and non-government education authorities and school principals.
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