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Motion: Supporting School Libraries 2

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. T.A. Franks:

That this council—

1. Recognises that school libraries are at the heart of teaching and learning in schools and that they are also places where a love of reading can be sparked and nurtured, often with the guidance of the school teacher librarian.

2. Recognises that:

(a) connected learning spaces serve an important role in schools and they should be complemented by physical libraries where students can browse, study, read and receive assistance from a qualified teacher librarian; and

(b) investment in school libraries helps students achieve educational goals, develop a love of reading, advance digital literacy skills, provide access to diverse ideas and improve cultural and social awareness.

3. Affirms its love for libraries and that it wants public school students to have libraries they can love too.

4. Calls on the government to ensure every public school student in South Australia has access to a quality school library and a qualified teacher librarian.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Thank you to those members who did speak on this motion today, and it is a very late hour of today. I think it is safe to say that most of us would have warm memories of spending time in libraries in our youth, and in particular we remember our school libraries fondly. School libraries are at the heart of teaching and learning in schools and are places where a love of reading can be sparked and nurtured, often with the guidance of the school's teacher librarian.

Having qualified library staff matters. Schools with a qualified teacher librarian are more likely to have improved student literacy outcomes. Students in schools with a top qualified teacher librarian had up to two months' learning gain compared with students in schools with no staff member managing the library, taking into account the effect of the socio-economic status with regard to that NAPLAN data and the COVID impact, as the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos covered.

It is well recognised that the ongoing situation will impact at least a generation. Students in schools with a qualified teacher librarian had up to two months' learning gain compared with those students with no staff there managing the library during COVID-19. Schools with teacher librarians of course were better able to upskill their staff for digital learning. Teacher librarians enhance digital and information literacy, resource the curriculum and help students become critical, creative and collaborative thinkers.

Teacher librarians have a fundamental and powerful contribution to make in preparing students to face the challenges of the future. They have a leadership role in the school to ensure that students are given the opportunities to develop information literacy and to promote resource-based learning as the methodology that facilitates this. But since I moved this motion, I note that the future is looking bleaker.

Indeed, I am told by those I have consulted with regard to this motion that at least seven schools in this past term alone have decided they will not have a teacher librarian next year. I am told of a school library that is in an area where the students are already having critically low literacy rates, that there are 1,000 books for 1,350 students. The recommendation is 15 to 20 books per student. That school does not even have enough for one book per student, yet that school is already up against it. Those children are being let down by our lack of leadership.

Well-resourced school libraries are essential. They become a learning hub for the school. They offer access to print and non-print resources and a gateway to resources from around the world. They also provide ease of access to information technology. The School Library Association of SA believes that one of the best outcomes for children and students of the National Inquiry into Teacher Education is to ensure every school in Australia is staffed with a teacher librarian with the dual qualifications of teaching and librarianship, based on student numbers, and that all states have access to universities offering excellent teacher librarian courses, ensuring the supply of qualified and committed teacher librarians for all Australian schools and, of course, all South Australian schools.

That is why I have put this motion before the parliament. I will leave the chamber with this: it is important, now more than ever, to ensure that all students—no matter where they live, no matter where they go to school—have access to a teacher librarian. I will be opposing the Liberal amendment to this motion. I think it is an indication that the Marshall government have shown no leadership on this matter. They are not willing to take action.

They have, in their contribution, blamed the Labor opposition for moves they made in terms of funding models when they were in government, without addressing the recommendations before us, without addressing the importance of having trained teacher librarians in each and every school and without accepting and embracing and taking on the challenge of the issue at hand. With that, I commend the motion.

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