Kia ora Koutou,
Recently we posted an update to the blog on the SLANZA submission to the Select Committee inquiry into 21st Century Learning Environments and Digital Literacy. You can read that post here, and find links to information about the inquiry itself, and to the SLANZA submission document.
Today, Michele Whiting, who presented the submission on behalf of SLANZA, has been invited to appear at the hearing on the morning of Wednesday 20 June. She will be accompanied by Fiona Mackie, our President, and they will have a 20 minute opportunity to give an overview of the content of our submission and raise any additional points. There is an allowance of ten minutes for the Committee to ask questions. We may also submit additional papers at this time.
We will provide further updates as information comes to hand, although it is unlikely that we will have anything to report after this session, unless the questions posed by the Select Committee are interesting in themselves.
Please contact your local NE representative if, after reading the documentation you believe there are glaring omissions in the points we have raised.
The SLANZA National Executive has just put out a press release in response to the recent decision to increase class sizes. Full content follows:
The Government’s policy to increase class sizes to release funds for teacher development demonstrates a lack of awareness of the needs of 21st Century learners, according to the School Library Association of New Zealand/ Aotearoa.
“Things have changed since the Minister of Education was in school”, said Fiona Mackie, President of SLANZA. “ It is well recognized that we cannot meet the diverse needs of students now and in the future with classes of 41, such as she experienced 40 years ago”.
“School librarians understand this as they are working at the cutting edge, where information technology and E-learning meets the classroom”, said Ms. Mackie. “Schools also have to meet diverse needs and these factors combined mean that teaching from the front of the classroom to large numbers of students just won’t make the grade any more”.
“The Minister is also mistaken when she relies so heavily on research that says class sizes don’t matter. While the quality of the teacher has the most impact, the work of Russell Bishop and others demonstrates that relationships between teacher and student make the most difference – particularly for Maori. It clearly easier to develop those relationships when the class sizes are smaller,” said Ms. Mackie.
“With the changes announced by the government, schools will have to make difficult staffing choices and some may unwisely decide to cut school librarians rather than lose a teacher”, said Ms. Mackie. “If this happens it undermines the goal of raising student achievement in literacy, as well staffed school libraries have a pivotal role to play in this. The National Standards emphasise the need to teach literacy across the curriculum, including information and digital literacy, where experienced librarians are the experts”.
“The government needs to rethink its policy”, said Ms. Mackie.
SLANZA has made a submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee "Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy". You can find the Terms of Reference for the inquiry online here, and SLANZA's submission is available here (pdf). We have asked to appear before the committee to speak to this submission, and will keep you informed of progress.
In an interview recorded by Radio Rhema on Wednesday, SLANZA President Fiona Mackie spoke passionately about libraries, both in our schools and in our communities.
Entitled, School Libraries a waste? the thrust of this interview relates to the fact that across the ditch in Australia, the government has spent 4 billion dollars building new school libraries across the country and that this now appears to be going to waste. According to reports, many Australian schools are now saying they're phasing out their entire catalogue of books and all their shelving because pupils are researching on line and reading e-books instead. (For more on the Australian school library situation, visit The Hub.)
Fiona was asked to share her persective, which she did very succinctly, from how librarians are in the best position to help students navigate their way through the research mire to how e-books aren't quite the same as their print versions when it comes to cuddling up with your favourite youngster for story time. To hear Fiona talk about this and more in just 5 minutes click on this link.