lb100m required to revitalising 'deteriorating' school libraries

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All from the UK’s children’s laureates have required the government to dedicate £100 million a year to revitalising 'deteriorating' primary school libraries across the nation.

In an impassioned letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Cressida Cowell, Quentin Blake, Malorie Blackman and Michael Rosen urge for £100 million to be ringfenced for building new and restoring neglected libraries each year, saying that countless children are ‘passing up on opportunities to uncover the life-changing magic of reading’.

There have been increasing fears that literacy levels have dropped severely during the pandemic, on top of both public and college libraries having been susceptible to swingeing cuts during the last decade.

The Sunday Times has reported that unpublished government figures reveal that a lot more than 200,000 pupils are set to enter secondary school this autumn without having to be in a position to read properly – a rise of 30,000 since last year.

The campaigners reason that the £100 million in funding allows schools to establish entirely new libraries, hire professional librarians and purchase new stock. In comparison, £320 million continues to be ringfenced to advertise sports and physical eduction in primary schools this season, with vast sums set aside every year since 2021.

The Great School Libraries survey of more than 1,700 schools says one out of eight didn't have library at all. Nine in 10 English schools had libraries, when compared with 67 per cent in Wales and 57 percent in Northern Ireland. It also found that 39 percent of primary school libraries held less than 5,000 books, and were only staffed for just one hour each day on average, compared with seven among secondaries.

As part of the campaign, Cowell is spearheading an effort to renovate libraries in six schools around the UK: Benwick primary school in Cambridgeshire, Dinnington community primary school in Rotherham, Griffin primary school in Wandsworth, Saviour CE primary school in Manchester, Skerne Park primary school in Darlington, and Woodchurch C of E primary school in Wirral. A large proportion of scholars in the six schools qualify for free school meals.

Each will get 1,000 books donated by publishers, training for staff in librarianship, new furniture and audiobook technology, and paintings to help make the spaces feel more desirable to children. The libraries will reopen in June, and the effect on students will be monitored over 12 months.