Job evaluation schemes resulting from the Single Status Agreement introduced in 1996 have caused particular concerns among school librarians as it has proved very difficult to evaluate their roles in comparison with other Council employees. As the process has been rolled out across the country we have heard of some who have gained and some who have lost under this scheme. In some authorities the Headteachers and governors have chosen to ignore any proposal for reducing the salary of their school librarian, while in others this may not be permitted. In several LAs separate job specifications have been created for school support staff in order to more effectively address this issue.
We would like to stress that school librarians and their jobs are infinitely varied with regard to qualifications, experience, responsibilities and impact. However we do believe that the unique role of the school librarian, in providing appropriate resources, in supporting the development of literacy and reading for pleasure, in working alongside teaching staff to develop pupils' (and staff) research strategies and information literacy, is not properly recognised in many instances.
School librarians will typically hold their own budget and manage a very expensive resource, will deal with large numbers of students, often with no support, at lunch and break times, will work on their own or with teaching staff to develop and teach programmes of information literacy as recommended by Ofsted, and in many instances positively contribute to meeting the school’s priorities for improvement (see Good School Libraries: Making a Difference to Learning, Ofsted March 2006.) New emphasis on process skills rather than collection of information have enabled many school librarians to make very positive contributions to staff training within their own and other schools. The development of more social learning styles and personalised learning is also best supported by librarians' specialist information skills.
Ofsted also reported: "In the best schools, librarians were regarded as important middle managers and encouraged to work closely with other members of staff." However we still find many instances of librarians working in schools for low salary, term time only, with no paid holidays.
In Scotland school librarians aim to deliver services set out in recent HMIE documents such as Libraries Supporting Learners and local authorities should refer to the recent guidelines from A Curriculum for Excellence which demonstrate ways in which they might achieve such support for teaching and learning. All English local authority job evaluation schemes should take into account the recommendations by Ofsted and ensure that they are not hindering the development of good school libraries in their area by setting the pay of the personnel concerned at too low a level to retain professionally qualified, experienced and able staff.
This was agreed for England and Wales in 2003, and any contractual changes should have been implemented by now. More information for SLA members can be found at http://www.sla.org.uk/advisory-note.php?i=20