An examination of library facilities available to pupils should be included in Ofsted inspections, according to a new report from MPs and peers.
The regulatory body has been urged to collect data for the Department for Education regarding how many schools across England offer library services, stating every child should have access to one at school.
The Libraries All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report - titled The Beating Heart of the School - highlights the fall in the number of school libraries and librarians in recent years, saying their provision is crucial to encouraging pupils to read and improving literacy skills.
Chair of the APPG Lord Graham Tope said a good school library should be available to "every child growing up in the UK" to help them achieve their potential.
"In an increasingly digital world, we need to teach young people how to evaluate and understand unprecedented amounts of information," he remarked, adding that in order to measure the impact libraries have on education, Ofsted needs to include them when they visit schools.
The report revealed that the number of librarians working on schools across England has fallen by 280 in two years, with smaller budgets forcing schools to make cutbacks.
Schools minister David Laws praised the APPG's interest in the issue and described school libraries as "incredibly important" when it comes to children choosing books and reading them in a dedicated space. He added that "reading for pleasure and study has a well-documented positive impact on children’s educational attainment across the curriculum".
In addition to collecting library data, the APPG report also suggests appointing a lead staff member for overseeing school libraries at the Department for Education.
Posted by Harriet McGowan