We recognise the important role that school libraries play, and we would encourage local authorities to provide such services. As well as providing resources and support, libraries improve children’s ability to read, write, talk and listen, and they often foster a lifelong love of reading and books from an early age. There is an important role for school libraries and public libraries to play in our read, write, count literacy and numeracy campaign, and in all our work to raise attainment and close the attainment gap.
I thank the minister for that reply, with which I agree. Is he aware of the level of concern in Argyll and Bute at the council’s decision to cut librarian jobs from secondary schools? Does he agree that discovering books, and the joy of reading and intellectual curiosity and inquiry, outside the school curriculum is a key part of going to school? Does he further agree that the removal of a highly skilled school librarian is deeply disappointing and will make that much more difficult to achieve for pupils in Argyll and Bute because it will deprive pupils of a most basic and important experience, enjoyment and skill?
I am aware of some of the concerns that have been expressed about not only school libraries but mobile libraries in Argyll and Bute. I very much agree with what the member says about reading for pleasure and curiosity being absolutely central to a young person’s achievement and to their life chances with regard to closing the attainment gap.
Does the minister agree with me that it was rank hypocrisy for the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning to pose in a library for media opportunities the day after she voted to rip out another £0.5 billion from local government services, which will close the very libraries in which she was posing?