General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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School library 'lost opportunity'



Schools libraries are too often a "wasted resource" which should be brought into the mainstream of teaching, says a report.

The report from the School Library Commission says their importance has been neglected.

The commission says almost a third of staff responsible for school libraries have "no specialist knowledge of children's literature".

The report says good libraries are vital to successful schools.

The commission, chaired by former education secretary Baroness Estelle Morris, has published its findings after examining the current state of school facilities.

High achieving

It calls for schools to make more use of their potential.

It says that there is a clear link between successful schools, high-achieving pupils and well-run libraries, with eight out of 10 good readers using school libraries.

The commission is calling for the government to recognise the role that such facilities can play in improving literacy - and for schools to designate a governor who will be responsible for the library.

The report says library staff should have access to training and that they should work more closely with teachers and other school staff.

It calls upon authors to get more involved in promoting the use of school libraries.

But it warns that too many schools are failing to make enough use of their facilities.

'Great resource'

"They have to be more than just places with books," says Baroness Morris. "They need to be integrated with the rest of the school, librarians working with teachers, rather than remaining separate domains."

Baroness Morris said that adults might have lost their own habit of using the "great municipal resource" of a public library - and so do not see realise how much benefit can be gained from a successful school one.

The value of school libraries, as a way of opening the minds of the young, was emphasised by the former poet laureate, Sir Andrew Motion.

"School libraries form an absolutely vital part of every child's education, and it is essential that they are protected, expanded, diversified, and enriched... They are nothing less than the rooms young people enter in order to discover the world," said Sir Andrew, who is now chair of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council.

The School Library Commission was launched by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council and the National Literacy Trust.


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