Pullman urges Scottish politicians to save school libraries

1 February 2016

Our president Philip Pullman has spoken out in support of our campaign to make school libraries mandatory by urging Scottish politicians to save closure-threatened school libraries.

In an article in the Sunday Times, Pullman said:

As a teacher, I witnessed the decline of the immensely valuable schools library service in England. It was never made statutory, so there was no law to stand between it and the inevitable decay resulting from the devolution of school budgets (and the pressures on head teachers to mend the science lab roof, employ an extra maths teacher, and so on).'

The library should be at the heart of every school—a place not only to support the curriculum, but even more valuably to support the individual and unpredictable discoveries, intellectual, literary, emotional, aesthetic, made by pupils on their own.

To me, the words ‘Scottish’ and Enlightenment’ are inseparable. Scotland has such a proud and admirable record in the field of education that it’s profoundly depressing to think that legislators should consider even for a moment reducing support for libraries in Scottish schools. I urge them to save school libraries, and show England how it should be done.

Among a number of specific recommendations made in our submission on culture, we are campaigning for school libraries to be a statutory requirement.

We are campaigning for:

  • All state-funded schools to have sufficient books available to all children and a nominated library specialist among its staff.
  • Government to consider the quality of school library provision as part of the Ofsted assessment criteria.
  • Schools to be encouraged to work with their local authority public library service to establish a school library fund, to create more efficient ways of providing books to children.