Raise the profile of our librarians

5th January 2007 at 00:00
David Nicholson Bowfield Road, West Kilbride

The inequalities resulting from the flawed job-sizing exercise among promoted teaching staff has resulted in not a few disgruntled teachers who feel undervalued for the work they do and has contributed to the reluctance among many experienced staff to seek appointment at headteacher level.

However, I suspect that the damage done to school education by teacher job-sizing will be insignificant compared to that which may follow if there is indeed to be the downgrading of librarian posts, which you reported on December 15.

The goals set by the Scottish Executive in A Curriculum for Excellence to produce a generation of responsible, self-motivated, independent and self-confident learners will require schools to have at their heart a libraryresource centre which can stimulate, inform and guide the desired growth and development of pupils.

Old-fashioned, subject-based, teacher-led classroom work is not going to deliver what is needed. There has never been a time when a skilled, professional librarian has been more needed to take a holistic view of the pupil's school experience.

Therefore, far from downgrading librarians, what is required of local authorities is that they raise their profile, status and area of responsibility. Place the library at the centre of the pupil's learning experience, and make school librarian appointments at the salary level appropriate to the position.

We have seen numerous schools make the step away from managing learning through a myriad of subject principal teachers (each as concerned to preserve the status of their department as to further the education of children) to a smaller number of faculty leaders.

The librarian needs to be appointed at this same level with the status and authority to oversee learning across traditional and increasingly irrelevant subject boundaries. Such an appointment would represent a significant step along the way to realising the ideal of A Curriculum for Excellence.

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