Scotland's response to Scottish Executive Consultation Building the Foundations
of A Lifelong Learning Society A Review of Collaboration between Schools and Further
Education Colleges in Scotland
UNISON believes that there are potentially serious
consequences for school and college librarians as a result of the Executive's
UNISON believes that
the consultation does not adequately address the training needs for the staff,
in order to deal with 14-16 year olds.
is disappointed that there is no reference to the resource implications for both
school and college libraries.
highlights the necessity for trade union consultation for any proposed changes
to employees' working conditions.
is Scotland's largest trade union representing 150,000 members delivering public
services in Local Government, Health, further and higher education, energy (gas
and electricity), water, transport and the voluntary and community sector.
paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's response to the consultation document issued
by the Scottish Executive; Building the Foundations of A Lifelong Learning Society
A Review of Collaboration between Schools and Further Education Colleges in Scotland.
consultation document is an attempt to open up college courses to 14-16 year old
pupils. Although its practical arrangement (5.23) cover lunch vouchers, there
is no discussion whatsoever regarding resource implications and the potentially
serious consequences for school and college librarians due to this major omission.
only mention of a library is in 3.7, where it is noted that one of the differences
between a school and a college is the bigger size of the college library. None
of the many related issues are mentioned at all.
library resources will be geared towards adults. With the recommended changes,
college libraries would have to deal with significant number of younger pupils,
whose reading ages will inevitably be much lower.
to College Libraries
There has been
no consideration given to whether 14-16 year olds will be given college enrolment;
usually this is necessary to access college libraries.
of Sufficient Resources
pupils can comprehend resources easily, there would be an increased demand for
these from the college library, since there will be many more people seeking the
Consequences for School
Pupils may not be given
time to use college libraries (transport back to schools would probably be at
the end of lectures, leaving no time to use college libraries). They may not be
able to gain access or find relevant resources. Students could find the college
library materials beyond their understanding, and therefore need to turn back
to their school library instead.
This proposal has significant
funding implications for school & college libraries alike. If they are not
going to receive additional funds, then either existing "customers"
or the 14-16 year old cohorts are going to lose out.
College libraries vary
widely in available space, but in all cases can find themselves fully occupied
at particular times of the year. There could be a problem if the 14-16 year olds
take up the available space when full-time college students require the same area.
The same problem arises with the use of computers.
Access and Logins
Schools have very
strict guidelines and filtering mechanisms in place (using systems such as Websense)
for computer access and logins. Whereas colleges deal with adults, and may have
much less stringent safeguards. There could potentially be problems for college
librarians allowing younger pupils to access these networks. A uniform standard
would need to be set up to ensure that college librarians are protected.
a similar way, pupils may be unaware of copyright legislation and may unwittingly
break it by copying (either in print or electronic format) materials. This may
lead to difficulties for college library staff, unless responsibilities are clearly
defined on a national basis.
Consultation document only partially recognises the fact that (3.7), college students
employ "greater self-sufficiency" than school pupils do. Although this
gap has been acknowledged in the consultation document, it is not actually addressed.
Fore example colleges will have difficulties with new entrants from schools. They
will have to be taught to become more independent learners. This must be tackled
properly; or else it will impact directly on college library staff. The demands
on the services provided by college library staff will increase. The needs and
expectations of 14-16 year-olds will be different from the way in which they currently
do their job.
section 5.2, it is noted that,
training needs…of other staff in FE colleges will be considered",
is important to ensure that the "other staff" includes college library
staff, and that there are opportunities for them to liaise at local and national
level with their counterparts in school libraries, in order that common issues
can be identified, discussed and plans co-ordinated.
Pupils in schools that
have college connections have already been trying to obtain material related to
college courses from their own school libraries. If implemented, the proposals
will increase this demand significantly. In the first instance, school librarians
will not be aware of the courses, and will not have relevant resources. This will
inevitably lead to frustration on the part of pupils, who may either vociferate
this directly to the librarians, potentially causing conflict and stress.
students may take their complaint to Guidance or Pastoral Care Staff, who may
then demand that librarians meet these needs. Similar pressures may be brought
to bear on the librarian by her/his Line Manager. None of these staff will appreciate
the associated issues. For example, relevant resources at an appropriate reading
age may simply not exist. So far there has been no call for these types of resources
and it seems unlikely that there has been any discussion with major publishers
to flag up the proposed new developments. Even where relevant resources are available,
no additional budget will have been made available. Should the librarian buy these
resources rather than other ones, this would simply lead to further conflict with
mainstream teaching departments.
pupils are not necessarily familiar with the "self-sufficiency" policy
that colleges hold for students. School pupils may turn for help and support from
the school librarian. This would put significant additional demands on librarians'
time. Either in order to help pupils on an individual basis, or in order to undertake
information skills courses for larger numbers of pupils. In some cases it could
force librarians to perform duties beyond their current job descriptions.
is very easy to envisage that, unless these issues are resolved now at national
level, school librarians will be under a lot of pressure from pupils and senior
For College Librarians
school librarians, college librarians will not have been given extra funding for
this proposed venture. College librarians could find themselves in a "no-win"
situation; if they do purchase resources for this cohort (school pupils), assuming
of course that suitable ones are available, then staff could justifiable complain
that mainstream college students are being disadvantaged. Equally, if they do
not buy these resources, then pressure could be brought to bear, since they are
disadvantaging the pupils, and thus undermining the new proposals.
challenges and dilemmas would face college librarians in relation to whether or
not they should make seating accommodation or computers available at the expense
of full-time students. Even greater concerns might centre on access to the Internet,
e-mail and copyright laws. If college librarians are to have any "duty of
care" towards pupils, this could put library staff in a position that they
may not have previously been required to have any knowledge. This would require
of the Questions in the Consultation document relate in any way to the above serious
issues; however, some have an indirect connection. These are as follows:
All of the above issues need to be addressed
at a national rather than a local level, since the effects will be the same throughout
collaboration is needed throughout the two sectors. It would be vital to have
coherent skills and a reading strategy, building from Primary to Adult, also ensuring
that materials at appropriate reading and ability levels are available for each
must make appropriate provision for school pupils. They must recognise that college,
teaching and library staff, need to be fully informed about pupils' skills requirements,
reading ability levels and the implications for teaching and for related library
and research tasks and materials. They would need to ensure that there is a continuum
of Lifelong Learning from schools to colleges so that pupils can begin to build
up the requisite skills.
There are particular issues
that the training and development of further education lecturers and teachers
need to address, in order to facilitate more effective collaboration between the
school and further education sectors. Both teachers & lecturers must be aware
of the skills required, not just in terms of the subject or course itself, but
in seeking information from books, the Internet and other resources; sometimes
called the "Higher Order Reading Skills".
Appropriate training will
need to be given to teachers and other staff in further education colleges to
be able to provide effective support to under 16 year olds. College library staff
needs to be included in this training. Not just within their own environment,
but also would need to meet with other college librarians and with those working
in schools. The appropriate time would need to be allocated to these objectives
at a national level.
proposals in the consultation document imply serious consequences for school and
college resources and members of staff. It is evident that these important gaps
in the consultation document need to be discussed, assessed and resolved at national
level. Failure to do so could result in unnecessary and avoidable challenges for
staff working in school and college libraries, and would also make it very difficult
for the proposals to work.