Library Advocacy: Correspondence with the Department for Education part 2

After receiving a response to my email to the Department for Education, I sent them a follow-up message

Question: RE: 2017-005541

Regarding the communication referenced above could I please request clarity on how “the government strongly support school libraries”

In what way is the support shown and how does the DfE go about it? Specific examples would be appreciated

Claiming that “It is for individual schools to decide how best to provide and maintain a library service for their pupils, including whether to employ a qualified librarian” is disingenuous at best as this approach clearly has not worked.

With the widespread closures of public libraries and the non-statutory nature of school libraries the claims that “teachers are expected to encourage pupils to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information. Within the national curriculum, the programmes of study for English have been developed to make clear the importance of reading for pleasure.” 

and

“English language will encourage pupils to read a greater range of high quality, challenging literature and non-fiction texts drawing across a range of genres and types (from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries).”

ring hollow as without the support of libraries how are students expected to access texts to “read widely and often”?

I look forward to your response in due course!

Matthew Imrie
Librarian & Editor: Teen Librarian

I think I touched a nerve going by the response I have just received:

Dear Mr Imrie

Thank you for your email of 5 December about school libraries.

The government strongly supports school libraries because of the important role they play in encouraging young people to read for pleasure. Libraries remain hugely important, cornerstones of communities and part of the fabric of our society and our national lives.

Libraries are a local authority service, funded and run by local government. Legally, local authorities must provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service. It is for each local authority to determine how best to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service to their local community, within available resources.

As stated in our previous response to you, I should reiterate that as schools are autonomous institutions, it is for schools to decide how much of their budget is spent on school libraries and how much is spent on the national curriculum. The department has no say in this matter.

Furthermore, may be interested to know that public libraries are a local authority service, funded and run by local government. Legally, local authorities must provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service. It is for each local authority to determine how best to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service to their local community, within available resources.

I am sorry I cannot be of further help on this occasion however I trust you can see why the department cannot become involved at this time.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2017-0057472. If you need to respond to us, please visit: https://www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at: http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/YBK1O/

Yours sincerely

[redacted]

Ministerial and Public Communications Division

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk



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