CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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CILIPS letter to Fife Council in regards to Library and Learning Assistant posts

Category: News

Sean McNamara, Head of CILIP Scotland has written to Fife Council to raise concerns at the grading of the following post:

Text below:

I am writing to raise concerns over your position that is offered in several of your schools for a Library and Learning Assistant at Grade FC3. The job description and role profile appear to cover the core tasks normally expected of a school librarian, a post that often requires a professional level qualification, Chartership or relevant experience and therefore a higher salary.

Considering that, please could you provide us with a justification as to why this post is being offered at this lower grade? And how this role actually differs from the other Librarian posts you offer at a higher grade in some schools? I have looked at both role profiles and whilst they differ in some areas, if a Library and Learning Assistant is the main library-based employee in a school then many of the Librarian role tasks would be undertaken regardless. For example, the role contains tasks such as managing the library system, leading programmes, coordinating literacy initiatives, supporting teaching, making funding bids and maintaining the website amongst others.

The National Strategy for Public Libraries, currently being implemented in Scotland on the instruction of Deputy First Minister John Swinney states that ‘school librarians are a fundamental part of Scotland’s education sector and have the potential to be transformative in the development of every child and young person’. This important document states on numerous occasions the important role school librarians have in educational settings and it is important that local authorities recognise this.

Valuing posts at non-professional levels runs counter to current national initiatives aiming to support and enhance literacy and will inevitably lead to a poorer overall educational experience for pupils.  A body of impact studies highlight the contribution of school librarians to improved attainment and achievement. School libraries are a safe and supportive learning environment where all pupils have equal and equitable access to curriculum related learning resources, both physical and digital, practical support, and information for educational purposes. We believe that school libraries should be the central resource of the school, open every day and staffed by a professionally trained librarian.

We believe the role of Library and Learning Assistant is potentially graded incorrectly considering what the post entails and we would urge you to look at this again and re-evaluate. We would welcome a response to this, and we would be happy to discuss the matter further.

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