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The aspirational new Education white paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All - More Choice for Parents and Pupils has been published by the Department for Education and Skills, which said:
"This White Paper sets out our plans to radically improve the system; putting parents and the needs of their children at the heart of our schools, freeing up schools to innovate and succeed, and bringing in new dynamism and new providers. We will ensure that every school delivers an excellent education, that every child achieves to their potential, and that the system is increasingly driven by parents and choice. To make that happen we need an education system that is designed around the needs of the individual with education tailored to the needs of each child and parents having a say in how schools are run."
The White paper can be downloaded in both pdf and Word formats while the summary is also available in pdf only from the DfES website.
The SLA has recently produced Guidance Notes about the process of School Workforce Remodelling in England in response to queries we are receiving from members. These notes are available to logged-in SLA Members here.
The recent Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) Review of Inspection Evidence in English 2000 - 2005 (HMI ref.2351) is now on the Ofsted website.
One of the key findings has particular relevance to the work of school libraries:
"There has been a marked improvement in the reading standards achieved but there remains a significant and continuing variability in performance across sometimes very similar schools. In addition, too few schools have given sufficient time and thought to how to promote pupils’ independent reading and there is evidence that many pupils are reading less widely for pleasure than previously. Many teachers struggle to keep up-to-date with good quality texts for their pupils to read."
In addition the document notes comments from the annual reports and other surveys including these from the 2003 /04 secondary English report:
"Many schools have improved library provision since their previous inspection. In the best examples, libraries have become effective learning resource centres at the heart of pupils’ learning where pupils enjoy access both to books and computers to support their work. However, library provision is unsatisfactory in a significant minority of schools."
The report then notes:
"Evidence from the survey bears this out. Secondary schools are more likely than primary schools to have a dedicated library area and specialist staffing. Nevertheless, there are weaknesses in both phases, often as a result of limited funding, accommodation and staffing. In too many schools, senior managers do not take a sufficiently close interest in the library or its impact on pupils’ learning, despite the significant financial investment it represents. It is rare to find schools that have a clear programme for developing pupils’ library and information skills across subjects.
"A number of recent publications should help schools to improve and evaluate their libraries, in particular the DfES’s guidance on schools’ self-evaluation of library provision."
The Ofsted English team have recently completed a survey of good practice in school libraries, visiting a range of primary and secondary schools throughout England. They held dissemination conferences last week and the report of the survey should be on the Ofsted website before too long.
Some of the key messages from the conferences were:
Change is effected to create good school libraries through:
Areas for development (even in many of the most effective schools):
Today, 24th October, is International School Libraries Day. Although many schools in the UK, and indeed in the rest of Europe, are on autumn break or half term holidays, the school librarians who are in school may wish to join their colleagues around the world to celebrate all that they and their libraries achieve in supporting learners and teachers. The School Library Association sends greetings to colleagues everywhere and wishes them all a successful and enjoyable day.
International School Libraries Day is run by the International Association of School Librarianship, and is held every year on the last Monday in October.
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