Posted by: Shireen | October 31, 2011

What do we choose to value?

I am quitting my job.

I know you might not have known, but for the past seven weeks, I have been back at work, not as a teacher, but as a librarian in a primary school.  It’s a good job.  I work two and a half days a week and my job is to get the children excited about reading in a school on an estate.  The kids are high needs, but eager to learn.  Right up my street, right?

Yes!  But I can’t keep on working because the amount of money I earn doesn’t even cover the cost of the nanny we have had to hire to take care of Little Bee while I work.  Seriously.

In my stay at the school, we have seen a significant rise in the number of students coming into the library and talking about books.  We have celebrated Children’s Book Week and have had authors in residence to raise the profile of reading for pleasure in school.  I know that I have given this school way more than their money’s worth because it matters to me.  I care about getting books into the hands of the children and I will work hard to make sure this happens.  Especially these children.  They all come from the Estate and most of their parents are immigrants who have low levels of education themselves.  So these kids are trying to make it in the world against a lot of odds.  With teachers so pressured with paper work, long hours and insane curriculum expectations (this I will save for another post), I think the children are benefitting from having a someone who can share a love books and encourage them to do the same.  We all know that children who enjoy reading do much better academically than those who don’t.  And I think that these kids could do with this jump start.

Schools are always pushed for money and resources, and having a librarian is a huge luxury in a state school, so I am not blaming the school for the stinky pay.  Why doesn’t the school have the money to promote reading?  If we know it supports academic achievement, and if this country wants to do better with the literacy levels, then why isn’t more money given to schools to allow them to do this?  Librarians and libraries in schools should not be a luxury, they should be standard.  Why are teachers and schools constantly blamed for low literacy levels when it seems there are some really simple things that can be done to change this?  It’s just that these things cost money, right?

There are lots of good people dedicated to teaching and to raising literacy levels, but what is the value given to these people.  Not much from what I can see.  If we aren’t even paid enough money to cover our childcare, let alone the rest of our expenses, how can we possibly continue to work for the cause? The teaching profession will lose some hardworking and dedicated teachers this way.  So until the government chooses to value these people and these kinds of literacy initiatives in school, we are really going to have a hard time getting these kids reading, writing and climbing their way out of the estate.



  1. I feel for you, my little person, your overwhelming desire to ‘get’ books to these children, and an equally strong desire to be valued monetarily enough to cover the cost for basic childcare. This is not an ideal world, but I know that you have sparked a little flame in some of these kids to continue loving books and reading. And you even got a story teller in school during your literacy week (nudge, nudge)
    I love you, as always

  2. Governments and education systems are way too short sighted and short budgeted to make a significant investment in a return that they won’t see till kids graduate. That’s the sad state of the system and the economy and why more parents don’t send their kids to state schools in the UK. Sad. You did great work at the school in a short time and I’m sure your absence will be felt tremendously!

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