9th Dec, 2019

Malvern headteachers express concerns over Schools' Library Service proposals

Craig Gibbons 14th Jun, 2018

CONCERNED headteachers have criticised proposals which could see a long-running service to promote reading and literacy in Malvern schools axed.

Worcestershire County Council chiefs have launched a consultation with schools across the county on proposals to close the Schools’ Library Service (SLS) from September due to falling interest in the service.

The total number of schools buying into the SLS has fallen from 216 to just 52 since 2000.

The SLS, which helps schools to manage and organise their school libraries and resources as well as providing books and promoting reading and literacy, has been running since 1933.

One key feature of the lifeline allows schools to borrow books for a set period rather than having to buy them.

According to Worcestershire County Council’s website, a typical primary school can spend £2,833 with the service but receive £15,014 worth of books.

Lizzie Guest, headteacher at Grove Primary School, told the Observer the axing of the SLS would be a very sad day for her pupils.

“Schools are under enough pressure from Ofsted as it is to raise standards in reading,” she said.

“The SLS is an invaluable resource as it provides us with books which match the topics our pupils study.

“Without it, we just do not have the funding to invest in those books ourselves.”

Stuart Busby, headteacher of Northleigh CE Primary School, said: “It’s a service we have brought into for years and the children get lots out of it.

“As with many things it seems our children our suffering from budget cuts and axing the SLS would only slow down our education.”

Olivera Raraty, headmistress at Malvern St James Girls’ School, added: “It would be a great loss to our pupils and others in the county if the service no longer exists.

“It’s important to encourage children, who are living in an age dominated by technology and social media, to be excited about books and reading.”

Schools have been sent a questionnaire to encourage them to provide feedback and make alternative suggestions as education chiefs at County Hall seek to discover how any potential closure would impact schools across the county before any decision is finalised.

Coun Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for communities, said the move was not a done deal and urged schools to speak up as part of the consultation.

“We’re very proud the county’s libraries have evolved to meet the demands of today’s students, embracing digital channels as a way of providing information.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a decreased demand for the School Library Service and attempts to bring additional buyers in to the service have proved unsuccessful.”

Schools have until Friday, June 29 to submit their response.

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