Parliamentary group calls libraries “beating heart of the school”
By Ruth Atkinson
Data should be collected on the extent of provision of school libraries, according to the Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group. In a report published this week, titled The Beating Heart of the School, the group examines the importance of school libraries and sets forward recommendations to ensure that they are given due recognition in national and local government.
The report considers the evidence that libraries have a positive effect on reading, and as a result on literacy levels. It stresses the importance of embedding libraries fully in the life of a school, helping to embed reading and the use of library resources throughout the curriculum.
“Where the library is fully integrated into the life and ethos of the school,” the report reads, “the potential benefits that a good professional partnership with the teaching staff can bring to the quality of teaching should not be underestimated.”
Drawing on expertise and examples of best practice, the report highlights initiatives that demonstrate the added value a well-resourced library and reading programme can add to a school. One such example is the Accelerated Reader programme from Renaissance Learning. “Many school librarians talked about how they made use of activities, for example Accelerated Reader, which quizzes children on the books they have read. The competitive nature of this activity was seen as very attractive to boys.”
The report makes four key recommendations:
- The Department for Education should collect data on school library provision
- The Schools Minister should examine the impact of libraries on children’s education
- Libraries should form part of Ofsted inspections
- The Department for Education should have a member of staff with lead responsibility for libraries