A teachers’ union has voted for libraries to be included in Ofsted inspections, after fears were raised that schools are increasingly viewing books as obsolete, according to the BBC.
Speaking at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' annual conference, Derbyshire headteacher Cathy Tattersfield said she had been "shocked" that two secondary academies had "recently closed or attempted to close their libraries and several of them have had their librarian hours or posts cut, mostly in the ex-mining areas of Derbyshire".
She said library provision in schools was “patchy” and revealed the results of a survey of 485 ATL members, quoting one headteacher who has decided “all reading can be done on iPads”.
"It seems to be feast or famine,” she said. "Some secondary provision is fine, cherished and secured," - but others faced reduced opening hours, conversion to e-learning centres, cuts in staff hours, or librarians having been removed or replaced by support staff or teachers.
"We identified a third of secondary schools have had cuts of 40% or more since 2010, with 20% redundancies in library staff at their school."
Of the education staff who responded to the survey, 94% said their school had a library but 41% said the library did not have enough space. Nearly a third (32%) said they did not have a librarian.
Another delegate at the conference, Lesley Mumbray-Williams, said her school got rid of its library stock when they dispensed with her services as a librarian.
Having a library in a school, unlike in a prison, is not currently a statutory requirement and authors and teachers have for a long time warned about the effect this ruling will have on children’s literacy.
Last year Julia Donaldson said the UK government is letting children down. She said it is “awful” that so many school librarians are losing their jobs. “We simply don’t have libraries at all now in a lot of our primary schools and we are getting rid of librarians in secondary schools as well — yet we complain about our poor literacy levels.”
In 2014 Barbara Band, president of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), said school libraries were the only place some children have access to books. “Many children don’t grow up with books at home, and it is more difficult than ever for them to visit public libraries given the time pressures on parents and the fact public libraries are having opening hours slashed.”