Letters Extra: Don't ignore us

20th December 2002 at 00:00

I read with interest your supplement (December 6) on support staff and wonder at your lack of attention to the role of the school library in supporting teaching and learning.nbsp;

I grant that it does reflect a similar neglect in the government's consultation document on the subject.nbsp;However, as UNISON represents many librarians I am surprised that they were so overlooked here.

Some librarians have many years of experience in schools as well as a degree and professional qualifications whereas in other schools the library is run by someone with little experience or training and no qualifications.nbsp;

Similarly, some schools offer the librarian pay comparable with teachers, full-time employment with Head of Department status and clerical assistance.

Other schools expect graduate professionals to work on a low grade, term-time only basis with no assistance and no status.nbsp;Consequently the job they do and the impact that they are able to have on teaching and learning varies tremendously from school to school.

Alone amongst support staff, the librarian's role encompasses all three strands identified in the consultation document : pedagogic, pastoral and administrative.nbsp;

Where they are allowed the opportunity they are able to play a vital role in schools as described by Streatfield amp; Markless (Review of the benefits of library use in schools: briefing paper prepared by
Information Management Associates April 2002nbsp; www.lifelonglearning.dfee.gov.ukempower.pdfsl2043.pdf )

I am very fortunate in my own post but many colleagues in other schools are undervalued and their position remains ambiguous.nbsp;

Librarians who are equally but differently qualified may not be treated as teachers but neither do they entirely fit in with the non-teaching staff.nbsp;

Nevertheless they do not deserve to be ignored and they certainly do not deserve to discover some of their areas of expertise (eg cataloguing, managing resources, Learning Resources Centre induction) cropping up in an exemplar job-description for an English Department's support assistant!nbsp; (DfES : Developing the role of school support staff, 2002).

Mrs SA Shaper DipLib., MA(Ed)., MCLIP
Woodland Avenue


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