Shropshire Star

Headteacher launches petition to save school library service amid council cuts plans

A primary school headteacher has launched a petition calling on a council to drop plans to scrap the school library service.

Schools will have to source their own library resources

Tracey Cansdale, headteacher at Christ Church C of E Primary School in Cressage, said the idea of losing the service was unthinkable – adding that it is a huge asset, and something "we should be proud of".

It comes after Shropshire Council confirmed it is looking as closing the service, which provides books and resources to schools across Shropshire, and Telford & Wrekin.

The council said the service made a loss of £30k in 2023/24 – adding that it has "no choice" as it seeks to cut £62m from its budget.

Mrs Cansdale, who has been head at Christ Church since 2016, has now set up a petition calling for a re-think.

She said: "I don't think anyone can understand it. Shropshire should be really proud of the library service, it is an amazing service. It is like a treasure trove, it is not just books but incredible artefact boxes too."

She explained how the varied resources were hugely beneficial for pupils, saying they had borrowed a skeleton to study last term.

Mrs Cansdale said the school pays £1,300 into the service each year – and receives access to around £800 of resources for every £100 spent.

She said that were the school to spend the £1,300 on its own books instead the money would provide nowhere near the same return for the pupils.

Mrs Cansdale said that she had been surprised not to be contacted to ask if schools were willing to pay more to retain the service, or if schools would be interested in housing some of the resources if the service is closed.

She said there was concern that the quarter of a million items held by the service could be split up and lost as a resource in event of the closure.

She said: "As a headteacher there has been nothing about 'do you want to pay into it?'. I would pay more but I have not been asked."

Mrs Cansdale said it would be 'short-sighted' to withdraw the service.

She said: "All research shows if you get children loving reading they do better at GCSE."

She added: "We should be investing in our children, it is very short sighted."

Mrs Cansdale urged people to add their names to the petition in the hope of forcing a re-think.

She said: "If you think of the value of the resource they have got – there are more than a quarter of a million items in their stock, if that gets split up we will never get it back. They will never be able to restore it.

"So it is really urgent to get people signing the petition and to get councillors to reconsider it. We don't want to lose it, we should be really proud of it."

The petition states: "The School Library Service – SLS – create exciting topic boxes and mixes of books to engage and support children – children in schools get excited to see the boxes come in and explore what is in them.

"Closing the School Library Service will barely make a dent in Shropshire’s deficit but it will take books out of the hands of children and entrench educational disadvantage.

"Please sign below and ask the Council to rethink this decision before this valuable resource is lost for all future generations of Shropshire children. If 1000 people sign then the Council will have to have a debate on this decision.

"We the undersigned demand a formal consultation on the decision to close the SLS, plus a commitment to rapidly explore and report on options to rehouse the existing library and maintain the service in some form, within a month and before any actions are taken to close it."

Confirming its intention to scrap the service Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for children and education, said it was one of the many “difficult decisions” having to be made by the authority.

She said: "The School Library Service (SLS) is one such service that councils do not have to provide by law and many other councils have already stopped.

“In Shropshire, SLS operates as a traded service, which schools can buy into, and around two thirds of schools in Shropshire choose to do so. However, the service saw an annual loss of around £30,000 in 2023/4 having previously made a loss in 2022/3 and the council no longer has the reserves to fund this.

“As part of the council’s savings plans, it proposes to stop the School Library Service from the autumn and has begun consultation with the service’s four employees.

“SLS is not a public service, so public consultation is not appropriate. However, we have informed all schools who use the service and are working with them to identify alternatives.

“The scale of the financial challenge the council faces means there will be many such decisions that we have never wanted to make but face no choice.”

For information about the petition visit