SLANZA is pleased to provide an update on what we have been working on with regards to the remuneration and working conditions our members currently work under. We wish to inform our members that as of September 2018, NZEI notified the Ministry of Education of a pay equity claim on behalf of school librarians and library assistants as part of a wider school support staff pay equity claim. We have supplied statistics and information to NZEI since then, including a phone interview. NZEI are attending our next National Executive meeting in Wellington on 30-31 March to update us on the progress on this claim.
SLANZA National Executive also contributed to LIANZA’s oral submission to the select committee on the Equal Pay Amendments Bill. You may read our comments to LIANZA’s oral submission below.
We are extremely fortunate to have two organisations advocating for school librarians in the pay equity campaign. It reinforces SLANZA’s concerns relating to our poor pay rates and working conditions. This gives us a stronger presence and we look forward to working with both NZEI and LIANZA to support their submissions.
SLANZA Comments to LIANZA Equal Pay Oral Submission
Thank you for the opportunity of providing feedback on the Equal Pay Submission LIANZA is presenting on Wednesday 6th March 2019.
Importance of School Libraries
The school library is fundamental for students and staff to have equitable access to quality resources, skills and support. All schools should have a well-resourced library staffed by a specialist librarian to support the teaching and learning needed for student success. Research in New Zealand and in many overseas studies shows that having a well-resourced school library staffed by a professional librarian increases literacy levels and student achievement (National Literacy Trust, 2018). School libraries give equal access to all students, regardless of community services and financial situations.
Importance of School Librarians
Our SLANZA members are passionate and dedicated specialists who upskill themselves outside of work hours through their SLANZA community and professional development opportunities, with a proportion studying at tertiary level for diplomas right through to Bachelor degrees. Many library assistants are on minimum wage with part-time hours, yet this dedication shows a commitment to the profession and student learning and they deliver real benefit to their students and organisation.
We would also like to call attention to the widespread pay rate of specialist librarians managing school libraries who struggle to attain the living wage. With school roles of up to thousands of students, these school librarians provide information literacy skills, encourage a love of reading and learning, provide access to quality information sources, both print and digital to staff and students, provide ICT instruction for staff and students, provide a physical space where students can feel comfortable, safe and valued, are responsible for the library budget, and may supervise library assistants and/or volunteers. This substantial and complex skill set list is expected of school librarians at secondary level, with primary school libraries delivering many of these services. Considering the skill sets involved, remuneration is inadequate.
SLANZA considers the role of the school librarian as unique in comparison to other library positions. School librarians see the same students for a number of years and must provide a more holistic approach, building relationships and trust during a demanding age period. Student care is an underestimated skill set that school librarians practice daily.
There are a number of challenges facing schools and school libraries including pressures of the funding model, lack of space, staffing and budgets. There is a real fear for job security and hours, where libraries aren’t recognised as vital to student achievement, where school library staff aren’t valued as information experts with the skills and knowledge to encourage, care for and teach students, where budgets get trimmed to cater for other school needs, where libraries are being used as classrooms, where hours are cut so much that they find it increasingly difficult to make a difference to their students’ learning.
SLANZA would like to see legislation that every school has a well-sourced library, staffed by a specialist librarian with a sufficient ring-fenced budget for the hours and resources to support learning.
Significantly, ninety-seven per cent of our members are female (November 2018).
As of September 2018, NZEI notified the Ministry of Education of a pay equity claim on behalf of school librarians and library assistants as part of a wider school support staff pay equity claim. We have supplied statistics and information to NZEI since then, and I had a phone interview. We have invited NZEI to our next National Executive meeting in Wellington on 30-31 March to update us on the progress on this claim.