Scotland’s school libraries are being transformed with the support of a dedicated national programme aimed at improving literacy and boosting educational attainment.
The national school library strategy, Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools, was launched in September 2018 and, in its first year, has led to a £550,000 investment in innovative projects designed to improve school library provision and enhance the learning experience. The School Library Improvement Fund (SLIF) is supporting creative approaches to reading, writing, health and wellbeing, and mentoring. Around £200,000 of the investment is funding health and wellbeing projects, demonstrating the shift in the role of school libraries as trusted and safe spaces for children and young people.
In a hugely significant move, Education Scotland has added school libraries to the formal school inspection process, recognising the valuable role that school libraries play in learning.
In addition, for the first time, school libraries have been given a dedicated hub on GLOW, Scotland's online learning resource for teachers, pupils and parents, and a new literacy toolkit is under development to help primary and secondary school teachers and early years practitioners to improve information, digital and health literacy among pupils.
The first-year progress outcomes of the strategy coincide with International Literacy Day (8th September 2019), which aims to highlight changes and improvements being made worldwide in literacy development.
Deputy First Minster and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney said: “School libraries help inspire a love of reading and should be vibrant hubs in our schools. I am pleased to see the Improvement Fund is delivering innovative ways to aid learning and help improve not only literacy, but also numeracy, health, wellbeing and attainment.”
COSLA Children and Young People Spokesperson Councillor Stephen McCabe said: “Ensuring that all children and young people have access to high quality library services as part of their education is at the heart of the strategy. One year into implementation we are encouraged by the progress made. At the same time, we recognise that all of the changes in the strategy will take time and local authorities are committed to working with our partners to achieve this.”
Pamela Tulloch, SLIF chief executive, said: “School library provision across Scotland varies between schools and local authorities and, in many cases, this is due to tailored approaches to meet the needs of pupils. Where consistency is needed most is in equality of access, and the national school library strategy is helping to deliver this.
“The progress and outcomes achieved just one year after launch of the school library strategy are a clear indication of a strong commitment to the value of libraries and librarians in Scotland. We are encouraged by the level of engagement there has been from the education and school library community and believe the role of school libraries will be continue to strengthen over the next few years.”