School Libraries

Help us campaign for UK school libraries at the 2015 General Election.

Key messages

  • A good school library in every UK school should be compulsory
  • A good school library is a right of every child in the UK
  • A good school library is the cornerstone of education, participation and literacy
  • Good school libraries need skilled professionals who have the time and expertise to engender a culture of literacy and reading for pleasure in every child
  • Ofsted should collect data on school libraries as part of its annual inspections
  • There is a strong economic case for school libraries

Why school libraries?

They support personal and educational achievement

  • Research by the National Lieracy Trust suggests that enthusiastic young readers are 5 times more likely to achieve above average results (a)
  • A report by the Socttish Library and Information Council (b) has demonstrated a large international body of evidence showing that school libraries impact on:
  1. higher test or exam scores
  2. successful curriculum or learning outcomes including information literacy, knowledge and reading development and
  3. positive attitudes towards learning 

The UK has a major literacy issue

​One in six adults in the UK struggles with literacy and up to 40% of the adult population in our most deprived areas lack the literacy skills expected of an 11-year-old.(a)

A good school library is a right 

“Every child growing up in the UK should have the chance to learn and develop through a good school library. If every school has a well-resourced, properly staffed, fit for purpose library that is a key part of their strategies it will make a huge contribution to young people’s educational attainment.” 

- Lord Graham Tope, Chair, Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group,  August 2014

School libraries make economic sense

  • The value of strong reading skills in school-age children for future earnings as an adult is shown in two new reports: 

Institute for Fiscal Studies research (April 2015) 'The link between childhood reading skills and adult outcomes'  

Save the Children (2014) Read On. Get On: How Reading Can Help Children Escape Poverty


a. National Literacy Trust
b. Scottish Library and Information Council
c. Institute for Fiscal Studies
d. Save the Children

A national priority

With English schoolchildren close to the bottom globally in league tables on literacy and numeracy, literacy is a major social and economic concern.

It is widely evidenced that reading for pleasure boosts achievement and learning across the curriculum. Ofsted recognises the need to tackle low literacy and recognises the role of reading for pleasure in its Moving English Forward report.

But Ofsted don’t currently inspect schools for their library provision and no statistics are collected to help prove school libraries’ positive impact. 

Literacy is the cornerstone of education, and every child in the UK deserves access to a good school library staffed by a professional librarian to support their development and academic progress, not just to gain good literacy skills, but to develop a passion for literacy.

With the pressures on today’s teaching staff, a good school library and librarian is invaluable. A report by the Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group published in June 2014 calls for every schoolchild in the UK to have a good school library and asks that Ofsted inspect school libraries as part of their annual inspection.

CILIP believes that throughout their education every child is entitled to:

  • Support from designated library staff with extensive knowledge, enthusiasm and experience to advise, encourage and inspire wider reading and reading for pleasure to ensure fair provision for all
  • A skilled library practitioner with responsibility and time to help children and young people develop the skills needed to manage today’s information overload, to become lifelong learners and to meet the future job market’s need for problem solvers and independent thinkers
  • A safe and secure library environment for learning during and outside school hours, where help, resources and advice are freely available to all
  • High quality and wide-ranging library and classroom resources to support their curriculum which have been carefully selected to meet the needs of their age, learning style and ability and organised to provide easy access and availability
  • Be valued as an individual, having access to reading materials which are exploited by a knowledgeable person to support the emotional, cultural, leisure and wider needs of the whole person