The National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House UK have launched a review into national primary school library provision.
The nationwide review, overseen by the two, will analyse primary school library provision, calling for perspectives from key stakeholders who work in education as well as directly from families. The project will look at how Covid-19 has impacted primary school libraries and imagine the future of library provision in the primary sector. The call for evidence is targeted at librarians, teachers, schools, organisations and charities within the education space and organisations working with libraries and will be open until 25th June.
The NLT said: "Primary school libraries are a critical part of the school learning environment, providing not only access to a diverse range of books and resources but also to a quiet and safe place to read. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, school libraries were under pressure, with one in 10 primary and secondary schools in the UK not having a library at all."
"Library provision also varies significantly across the country, with schools in more disadvantaged communities less likely to have good library provision. Schools with a higher proportion of children eligible for free school meals are more than twice as likely not to have a designated library space on site.
"Nearly two in three (63%) of UK primary and secondary students use their school library – and children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely than their better-off peers to use the service. Covid-19 and the necessary closure of schools and libraries is likely to have a detrimental impact on pupils that rely on these spaces and resources."
The review follows the expansion of Puffin World of Stories, a collaboration between PRH and the NLT which has reached 225 schools over the past three years with nearly 80,000 books donated. Schools receive bespoke training, hundreds of free books and colourful resources to help bring their reading spaces to life. Author and actor Nathan Bryon was announced as the first Puffin World of Stories ambassador last month.
The news also follows a call by Cressida Cowell, the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, for Boris Johnson to commit to a yearly investment of £100m in primary school libraries.
Jonathan Douglas CBE, c.e.o. of the National Literacy Trust, said: “We are proud to be launching this important piece of work and are looking forward to seeing the submissions. This is an opportunity for the sector and families to come together to review what a good primary school library provision would look like and what steps are needed to get there.
“Primary school libraries are a key element in the academic recovery of children following the three national lockdowns. There is no greater time to be collating evidence of their fundamental importance as we try and support the youngest generation’s learning and literacy.”
Francesca Dow, m.d. of PRH Children’s, said: “Every child should have the opportunity to discover the magic of reading in school, and yet we know that library provision in primary schools is patchy – despite so many teachers and librarians’ best efforts. By funding this vital review of the role of primary school libraries, we hope to show how important libraries and reading for pleasure will be to our post-Covid national recovery.”
For more information, visit the NLT website.
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