Posted by: gillarbuthnott | January 31, 2016

Not Getting It Right For Every Child

24696849045_1c39e9122bI had a marvellous day at the Red Book Awards ceremony on Friday, chatting to the other authors (Lari Don, Keren David and Ria Frances), but more importantly to the many pupils who had devoted countless hours to writing reviews, devising presentations and displays, carrying out interviews and taking photos, as well as reading and voting for the books. Lari won with Mind Blind, (congratulations!) but I think the rest of us felt we had won, just by having the chance to be involved.

Of course, none of this would happen without libraries and, in particular, school librarians.  I know I’m coming late to the party here, and many people with a lot more clout than me have already spoken against the looming cuts, but as a children’s author with 11 years experience and a teacher with more than 30 years at the chalk face, I feel I have something to say.

As a teacher, I’m expected to be involved in implementing the Scottish Government’s GIRFEC policy. For those not acquainted with the acronym, it stands for Getting It Right For Every Child, and consists of 8 ‘indicators of wellbeing’.

These are Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, Included. If you want to look at them in more detail, click here.

It’s so obvious to me that school libraries and – especially – trained librarians have a huge role to play in achieving these aims for many pupils that I find myself at a loss to understand how the government can be simultaneously following two utterly opposing paths here. For some children, the school library is their refuge from the bruising reality of the rest of school and, in some cases, life. The librarian may be the one adult in whom they feel they can confide, with whom they can be themselves, specifically because they are not a teacher, and conversations and relationships can be built against the neutral and non-threatening background of a shared love of books.

Many children have little or no access to books at home, or to a nurturing environment in which to read them. They have no one to encourage their enthusiasms and imagination; no one to suggest that important next book, which may be the one that goes on to reshape their lives.

The Government cannot possibly Get It Right For Every Child if it cuts funding for trained librarians and properly resources school libraries.



  1. Well put.

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