A ST IVES school librarian will take to the streets later this month in a bid to persuade the Government to protect secondary school libraries and include them in Ofsted inspections.
Gill Mitchell, from St Ivo School, in St Ives, will be among a gathering that could run into hundreds of librarians, children’s authors, publishers, parents and students marching from The Embankment to the Houses of Parliament next Monday afternoon (October 29), before lobbying her MP, North West Cambridgeshire’s Shailesh Vara.
“If you are sent to prison, you are sure of finding a library there,” she told The Hunts Post. “If you go to school in the UK, excluding Scotland, you are not guaranteed to have a library.
“There have been local school library closures, because getting an unqualified parent to run the library or closing it and sacking the librarian is the easiest way for heads to save money.”
Her own head teacher, Howard Gilbert, understands and is very supportive, Ms Mitchell said. “He places a lot of store on the library, and I’m well resourced and get a good budget. But I’m not naïve enough to believe that, if he were to leave, his successor would be of like mind.
“It’s about all students getting a proper education. Unless you’re doing the English Baccalaureate, you don’t have to have a school library.
“We want the Government to make libraries a statutory requirement and to bring them into the Ofsted inspection regime,” explained Ms Mitchell, who lives in Ramsey Mereside and has been at the Ivo for seven years.
“At a time when only one in three children owns a book and public libraries are closing or reducing opening times, our children must have access to books in a school library managed by a professional librarian.
“And, because libraries are not statutory requirements, pay varies widely as well. In two schools of 1,000 pupils, one librarian might be earning £12,000 a year, while another down the road gets £30,000.”
She has promised the head that she will not be chaining herself to any railings on Monday. “But I shall be explaining to the MP how important the library is and pressing for us to be part of the Ofsted inspection.”
The rally, which begins at 2pm, is being organised by a former university colleague from Hampshire.