Report: UK Schools with Many Underprivileged Students Lack Libraries

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. conduct / kənˈdʌkt / (v) – to plan and perform an action

    The study was conducted by a team of psychologists from the University of California.

  2. disparity / dɪˈspær ɪ ti / (n) – the state of being different or unequal with someone or something

    There is a disparity in salary between junior and senior employees.

  3. lose out / luz aʊt / (phrasal) – to not have the advantage or benefit of something

    He didn’t want to lose out on the opening promo, so he arrived early at the shop.

  4. close the gap / kloʊz ðə gæp / (idiom) – to decrease or eliminate the difference between two groups of people or things

    The government will implement a project that aims to close the gap between rich and poor families.

  5. cut back / kʌt bæk / (phrasal) – to lessen the money spent on something

    The company plans to cut back on unnecessary expenses.


Read the text below.

Roughly one in eight schools in the United Kingdom do not have a library, according to a recent report.

A survey was conducted by the Great School Libraries, a campaign with the mandate to make all schools in the United Kingdom have a great library. Results showed that out of 1,750 schools in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, around 13% do not have a designated space for a library. Furthermore, schools with plenty of underprivileged students are even more likely to lack the facility.

The report also found that designated spaces for libraries are often turned into other facilities, like classrooms or meeting rooms.

The report highlighted the disparity between well-off and underprivileged students, as campuses without libraries have a higher percentage of students under the free school meal program.

According to a children’s book author, access to libraries reinforces student education by enhancing knowledge, imagination, and understanding through reading. Hence, students in schools without libraries are more likely to lose out on these benefits.

In light of the findings, some campaigners urged the UK government to close the gap between well-off and underprivileged students so that everyone can enjoy the advantages of school libraries.

The Association of School and College Leaders general secretary said that the recent cuts in the education budget have forced school administrators to cut back on certain things, including the maintenance of school libraries.

In response, the UK government said it would put emphasis on reading development and announced that more funds will be allocated for the education section over the next few years.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that having libraries in all schools is a good way to close the gap between the education of well-off and underprivileged students? Why or why not?
• Aside from building libraries, how else can the government reinforce the education of students? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What do you think causes the inequality between well-off and underprivileged students? Discuss.
• Who should be responsible for closing the learning and opportunity gaps between well-off and underprivileged students (e.g. government, education ministry, individual)? Why?