Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Libraries which are properly funded and professionally staffed should be at the heart of our schools and communities. Research shows school libraries have a positive impact on all areas of pupils’ learning, including the development of reading and writing skills, wellbeing and overall academic attainment and developing a love of reading for pleasure. These benefits are particularly profound for children on free school meals.  

“Reading should be an essential childhood experience for all but over 380,000 children in the UK currently do not own a book. Those who do own a book are six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age. It is critical that school libraries are there to fill this need and enable all children to foster a love of reading. Children who read in their own time for enjoyment tend to be more proficient readers than those children who do not.

“There is a strong relationship between reading attainment and school library use. All children benefit from well-run libraries but years of austerity have eroded these vital resources. Schools are not obliged to have libraries, although prisons are. It is time that Government took seriously the inbuilt educational disadvantage that face those children and young people for whom buying a book is prohibitive or an ill-afforded luxury.”


Note to editors

We are currently in Bournemouth for our Annual Conference (11-14 April), during which time you will receive a higher number of press releases than usual.  

The Conference Press Office can be reached on 07879 480 061. You can also email the press officer at caroline.cowie@neu.org.uk  

Our conference agenda is available here

The hashtag for Annual Conference is #NEU2022  

  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 

The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.