In preparation for a visit from the Education Review Office (ERO) here’s a guide for the school library team. This will help you identify and gather information to show how your library supports student learning.
ERO visit – purpose and process
Evidence that ERO will generally look for
Library staff responsibility in the case of a Library audit
Encouraging an informal library visit
Student learning in the information landscape: 2005 ERO study
Purpose of this guide
To help the library team focus their preparation on how they support student learning, so that this can be presented effectively to the ERO team.
To guide the library team in preparing relevant evidence-based information prior to an ERO visit.
- The overarching purpose of an ERO visit is to help improve the quality of teaching and learning in the school, so that the school in turn can improve student achievement. The library has an important role within that.
- ERO will notify your school of the date they plan to visit, early in the school year.
- The ERO team will advise the school of the specific dates about six weeks beforehand. Many ERO visits are for 3-4 days.
- ERO will focus on Ministry of Education (MOE) priority areas of special interest as part of their audit. They will also follow up recommendations from previous visits
- They will also investigate other areas determined in consultation with the school.
- Members of the team may have specific areas of expertise, depending on the areas chosen for investigation.
- Time limitations may mean the ERO team cannot visit the library at all.
- Evidence to indicate that the library staff and school community understand that the underlying function of a school library is to support student achievement in the school.
- Evidence to indicate that library services are actually delivered with supporting student achievement as the main goal and can be seen to be successful in this area.
- Evidence-based data indicating a well-managed library, resourced to enable it to support student learning effectively.
- Ensure you know when ERO is coming and how long they will be with you.
- Ensure you know the specific requirements of their investigation so that you can prepare well-focused information.
- Ensure that you are free and available to show them around your library, to present the library information to them, and be available to answer their questions.
Depending on the ERO’s emphasis, here are examples of evidence-based data you could provide. You may not be asked for all of this, but it pays to be prepared. Ensure that all your information is presented professionally, is succinct, and focuses on the purpose of the library – supporting student learning and achievement.
Evidence drawn from your statistical data
- Rather than pages of statistics, your information is sure to have more impact if presented graphically, either in colourful graphs or as infographics.
- Instead of masses of detail, focus on presenting trends that show increased usage relating to student learning – including whole class or group use, individual study, class research, and the main faculties that use the library (in a secondary school) so that you can demonstrate in-library use that may not be reflected in issue statistics alone.
- With all your statistics, select carefully what to report on, thinking constantly of the ‘so what?’ question and relating everything to the impact on students.
Evidence of library staff supporting students
- Focus on how the library staff are engaging with students, and how they have supported students in aspects of research, skill development, learning and literacy development.
- Include specific examples of collaboration with teachers, which may have led to working with students on aspects of literacy or to support inquiry, with evidence of the outcome.
- Library staff have acted on school reading data to build up specific areas of the library collection to meet the reading needs of an identified segment of the student population. Show evidence of the impact of this on their reading, in diagrammatic form or as a brief summary statement.
- A story that illustrates the difference you’ve made, such as engaging a particular student with reading for the first time.
Management and policy statements
- Have ready policy / management statements, such as your Library Policy, or Collection Management Statement, know where you can find these quickly, and ensure they are up-to-date.
- The Strategic Annual Plan Statement that shows the position of the Library within other school functions. For instance where does the Library fit in the delivery of the curriculum and support of specific school-wide targeted areas.
- Have ready a planning statement which shows your thoughts on future trends and how the Library will encompass them.
These reports should also include references to tasks that have supported student achievement, as suggested above.
Have ready examples of:
- the latest weekly, monthly or term reports to your Principal or BOT
- the most recent Annual Report to the Principal and BOT
- your latest report / newsletter to school community
Your library environment, physically and online: examples
- Information literacy display board
- Library website / intranet – with usage metrics showing levels of usage and by whom
- Library wiki / blog – and have metrics showing usage and how that is trending
We are all very proud of our libraries and we want to show them off or get some feedback on the services we are providing. Here are some ideas for involving the library. If ERO are not doing a formal audit, be proactive and work out ways of encouraging them to pop in and enjoy your library.
ERO personnel may not have a lot of time for in-depth conversations with you. You’ll need to decide on the highest priority issues that you want to share so that you make the most of the time you do get with them.
- Always speak to the ERO staff as you pass them in the hallways. Let them know you run the library and invite them to drop in as they are passing.
- Read the ERO Report. It is a good read and will give you good ideas for the development of your library service. It is also a great advocacy tool. Let them know you have read it. One secondary librarian reports that this had a great response for her, as not many people talk to them about the report and some wonder if it has been useful.
- Put on morning tea in the library for the ERO team.
- Offer the use of library for after-school meetings.
Here is a great example of a proactive librarian in action:
"Just had ERO come into the library and I have walked them step by step through every section, showing what I have done in the last year:
- building up Te reo Maori and Pasifika collections (and explained how hard it is to find this material!)
- splitting fiction into series all face out
- making Year 7/8 section
- easy fiction/quick reads
- parenting library - and more
"I am stoked! They were very interested and my new books display in staff room has had many comments too.
"They are also thrilled that we are opening the school library during January 15-24 for students to come in and borrow 5 books each. Even had the fridge magnets that each child will get to publicise it, to show them."
- Kimberley Atkinson, Robertson Road School, South Auckland
In 2005 ERO conducted an evaluation to determine how effectively New Zealand schools were supporting students’ learning in the information landscape. This study focused on three main areas: connection, content, and capability and confidence.
A key element of this review involved the role and effectiveness of the school library in supporting reading and information literacy.
For further details, you can read the full report: Student learning in the information landscape.
In the years since this report was published, the educational and information landscape has continued to change. However, this report makes for interesting background reading, even to see how the library and its services in your school have evolved since 2005.
Read about how ERO reviews, reports and publications on the ERO website.