- A skilled, trained library practitioner with responsibility and time to help children and young people develop the skills needed to manage today’s information world (including reading literacy, information literacy, oral literacy, technological literacy, numeracy and skills for personal knowledge building)
- A safe and secure environment for learning during and outside school hours with resources and advice freely available
- High quality, wide-ranging library and classroom resources to support the curriculum, organised to provide easy access
However, the report is realistic about the obstacles to school libraries achieving these goals, not least a decline in budgets in real terms. As a general rule, the larger schools have the larger budgets, but one school surveyed with more than 2,000 pupils only has £2 per pupil to spend, and one academy of more than 1,500 pupils only spends 31p per pupil on library budget, while another spends 62p.
Booktrust’s 2007 survey of school library spending (the latest year this survey was carried out), recommended spending £10 per pupil per academic year on library books in primary schools and £14 in secondary schools. The research found that 61% of primary schools and 92% of secondary schools reported a total library spend below these figures.
SLA Director Tricia Adams said in her conclusion to the report: “The SLA is committed to supporting everyone involved with school libraries, promoting high quality reading and learning opportunities for all. The results of this survey seem to indicate that there is less and less of a high quality service being provided for our students. Without the skills and pleasures that reading and researching can give us we will have a cohort of students lacking essential life and work skills.”
The SLA recommends the following steps to ensure that all schools have equal access to the benefits of school libraries, while recognising that the solution for each school will be different:
- Government support for trained school librarians in secondary schools
- Ofsted inspection of role of school libraries in schools reading for pleasure and literacy policies - Ofsted inspection of the library role in whole--‐school curriculum support
- Schools Library Services offering more librarian--‐based advice and support services for primary schools
- Exploration of ways that facilities could be shared, for example between public and school libraries and between groups or clusters of schools