Parents: Local libraries are closing and what this means for educational equality

Parents: Local libraries are closing and what this means for educational equality

Narrowing the gap Parents Social mobility What's new?

Recently, the BBC reported that around 343 local libraries in the UK closed in the last six years. The rest of the article continues to discuss the effects this has on the professionalism of the government service, but little mention was made as to what these closures mean for educational equality.

No matter how gifted and talented a student or child may be, or whether a student receives private tuition or not, access to educational resources is vital to the nurture of a growth mindset. The British government acknowledged the important role of libraries when they approved The Public Libraries and Museums Act in 1964, an act that made the provision of a library service a duty of the local authorities.

And yet, the number of libraries available to local communities continues to decrease year after year. Government spending cuts, that have seen an exchange of full-time staff for volunteers taking library roles, have been justified due to a decrease in the overall number of people visiting local libraries (including children).

But should a drop in library visits lead to a situation in which those communities who benefit the most from them ultimately lose out?

Who is affected?

The Taking Part 2015/16 Quarter 2 Report by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport states that whilst adults from black and minority ethnic groups showed a significant decline in library use along with the white group, the gap between the two groups is widening. To add to this, of the adults interviewed it was those who lived in the most deprived areas that visited the library more than those living in the least deprived areas.

With this report it is instantly clear that deprived communities and groups already performing worse at school, those less likely to have access to private tuition or private schooling, will also suffer more from the closure of local libraries.

It’s all too easy to observe the 21st Century population walking the streets with their heads bent over their mobiles whilst forgetting that there’s still a significant proportion of the population that don’t have personal internet access. A report into the Welsh Libraries service claimed that 50% of respondents visited their local libraries because they had no home computer.

But most importantly, with the need for computer literacy and digital skills in today’s workplace, a lack of access to computers brought about by the fact that local libraries are closing could reduce the employment chances of those that are already unable to afford a personal computer, internet, or private and home tuition. This couldn’t be much clearer than in the following statistics which show that 22% of Welsh library visitors need help to use the computer and 30% use library computers for job hunting.

What this means for educational equality

Perhaps you are reading this blog article online? On a smartphone or laptop? Our ability to research topics online has sped up the process of research for our studies, free book-reading apps make it simple to download new reading material at the click of a button and with affordable smartphones there is less need to visit the local library to use their computers.

But focusing on the declining use of local libraries by a whole population under one government budget, rather than focusing on the need for the service in specific local communities, could impact educational equality as a whole. It would be a terrible shame to limit the job prospects and educational potential of children from those families who can’t afford a home computer or internet, because without equal resources they may continue to lack the funds to provide the same resources to their children in the future.  

At GT Scholars, we know that young people are capable of achieving their full potential if they have the right support and that promoting educational equality is the right thing to do. This is why we offer a high impact tutoring programme in Croydon founded on the belief that every child should have the chance and the choice to succeed academically and in their chosen career.

To find out more about the GT Scholars Programme, why not meet us at one of our information sessions? You can book tickets online by visiting

What GT Scholars is doing to narrow the gap in attainment

Parents Social mobility What's new?

The GT Scholar’s Programme is a social enterprise with a mission to tackle educational inequality.

Research has shown that there are thousands of students that are underachieving at school; this is particularly true for students from lower income backgrounds.

In 2013, out of 85,000 GCSE students on Free School Meals, only 39% were able to gain 5 A*-C grades. For non-FSM only 65% gained 5 A*-C grades. (Data from The Department for Education 2014).

But the problems don’t just end at GCSE, they continue into A-levels.

For students from the lowest income homes, there is only a 4% chance of gaining entrance into a Russell Group university. For a typical state school student, there is a 20% chance of gaining entrance into one of the top universities and for students from independent schools, there is a 64% chance of gaining entrance into a top university. (Data from The Department for Education and The Department for Innovation and Skills)

Considering that there are a large number of universities that are classed as the “top universities in the UK”, it is disheartening to know that many pupils from lower income homes and state schools are still failing to gain access to these universities.

Research has shown that a student that was highly able in primary school and from a lower income household is less likely to go to a top university when compared to a student that was not-very able in primary school but is from a higher income household.

This is because the gap in attainment between pupils from richer and poorer homes widens throughout school. Students from higher income homes experience accelerated progress in secondary school and during A-levels, which is usually the stage where pupils from lower income homes and state schools begin to lag behind their peers.

This effectively means that your family income will ultimately dictate your academic future and life chances.

The GT Scholar’s Programme was founded with the goal of narrowing the gap in attainment and tackling the current problems of low social mobility in the UK. Our goal is to change the statistics and get more pupils from state schools and lower income homes into the most selective universities and the most competitive careers.

We are on a mission to give every student the chance to succeed at school and in life.