The Children’s Writers and Illustrator group, part of the Society of Authors has asked all of us to fill in an important questionnaire (link to Google doc at end of post). Children’s authors Bali Rai and Helena Pielchaty say that the group has met with representatives in the DfE about how to get the Government and Ofsted to recognise the value of libraries in schools and the impact of author visits on reading. The committee was advised that any letter sent to Sir Michael Wilshaw (Ofsted) would have to have evidence to back it up. This survey is to collect the evidence from all of us. We all know that author visits always generate interest in that author’s books, and reading, so I think we can all give a positive response to this. The responses need to be in by November 12th, please email them to email@example.com. Thank you. Link to survey here:https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B0ejuseTrf-3TkJndjNVMUdFZXc
A group of school librarians are planning to lobby parliament for school libraries to be made statutory. This protest is planned for October half term. This is not a demonstration but a lobby, so you will need to contact your MP in order to be part of this group, or you can come and show your solidarity. Barbara Band has organised a Facebook page – look for Mass Lobby for School Library Inspection. We feel that if school libraries were on the Ofsted Inspection Schedule then that would force schools to keep libraries open and to think about their provision. Please join us. A sample letter to write to your MP is in the box on the right. Follow the Facebook page or Twitter @schliblobby to keep in touch. If you are not on these, contact me via this page and I will put you in touch with the organisers so you can go on their mass email. Please publicise this as much as you can – we would love it if lots of us attend! This lobby is supported by both CILIP and the SLA. Thank you.
Following the publication of the Ofsted report on Moving English Forward there has been much discussion on the online internet group SLN about what this means for school librarians. At the London Association of Teachers of English last weekend led by an HMI Inspector, it was emphasised that school libraries would feature in inspections of whole school reading cultures where literacy was felt to be an issue. If attainment in English at GCSE and AL English are high, then the library will not need to be included. What will happen, I wonder, to schools who have problems with literacy, and don’t have school libraries any more? Is this finally the resurgence of school libraries that we have all been waiting for? What is your opinion – does this Ofsted report bring it any closer?
Ofsted have made a really positive mention of school libraries, and the effect they have on literacy, in their latest report entitled: ‘Removing barriers to literacy’. This is the extract, from paragraph 100. ‘The primary and secondary schools visited emphasised the school library as contributing markedly to improving literacy skills. All the schools visited had well-resourced libraries, often with computerised loan systems and facilities for accessing learning resources on an intranet. Libraries in the secondary schools were often open for much longer than the school day. This enabled students to complete their homework on the school’s computers before and after school. The enthusiasm and responsiveness of the librarian generally had a direct impact on the attitudes of the students towards the library and reading.’
If Ofsted feel that the library is so important for literacy – and this is a pretty strong endorsement – isn’t it about time that school libraries were inspected by Ofsted, and the lack of a library made a point of failure for a school?