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Saturday, 2nd October 2010

UK: School Libraries: A plan for improvement

School Libraries: A plan for improvement
Source: School Library Commission, via National Literacy Trust (UK)
Executive Summary:

At a time when fewer than half of all 8 to 14-year-olds have read a book in the last month, it is critical that all the resources available to support pupil achievement are being targeted effectively and used efficiently. The research for this report has demonstrated the powerful role a high performing school library and schools library service plays in raising pupils’ literacy levels and improving their access to knowledge.

Young people who read above the expected level for their age are twice as likely as young people who read below their age to be school library users (77.7% as opposed to 35.9%).This link is not necessarily causal but it does suggest that if school libraries do not perform to the highest level there will be significant implications for pupil achievement. Cuts to schools library services will exacerbate this problem.

What this Commission has established is that in many schools the school library is a wasted resource, poorly embedded in the infrastructure of the school: encouraging reading for pleasure but resistant to “teaching” literacy and phonics; absent from school development plans, official guidance and inspection frameworks; staffed (in one third of primary school libraries) by people who have no specialist knowledge of children’s literature.

School library services could be a highly efficient way of ensuring that clusters of schools maximise their value for money by having access to the resources, information and expertise they need to develop children’s reading and literacy, and offering access to knowledge. However outdated business and funding models mean their focus is often on how to make schools “buy back” rather than on rethinking provision in response to the challenge of raising literacy levels.

In order to develop this report the National Literacy Trust undertook a survey of 17,000 pupils; carried out a wide ranging programme of desk research; instituted a public consultation on the issues; carried out face to face interviews and focus groups with teachers and students.

As a result the report has a series of strong recommendations directed to governors, headteachers, sector bodies and local authorities which, if implemented, would improve literacy and attainment levels. All the recommendations aim to make school libraries more focused on supporting the educational objectives of the school by promoting literacy and access to knowledge.

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 964 KB)


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