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Calling for all children to have access to a textbook in the main subject areas.

Textbook Challenge Campaign evidence

Why we need this campaign: the evidence

The textbook challenge campaign draws on a body of research which highlights the benefits of high quality textbooks on pupil attainment and reducing teacher workload. But despite this textbooks are currently being underused in schools.

The campaign is not a simple call for money. It is about raising awareness of the value using textbooks bring to the classroom and teachers and encouraging their use. It is about pointing out that in an environment of limited resources when sometimes tough choices have to be made, the cost of textbooks is more than balanced out by the benefits they deliver.

TIMSS Survey (2011)

The survey showed that in England there is a significantly lower percentage of teachers who use textbooks as the basis of instruction for science and maths compared with teachers in Singapore and Finland. For maths 10% of teachers in England said they used textbooks as the basis for teaching compared to 70% and 95% in Singapore and Finland. For science the figures were split 4% in England, 68% in Singapore and 94% in Finland.

Why Textbooks Count, Tim Oates (2014)

Referencing the TIMSS survey, this report finds that the low usage of textbooks in English schools is a contributory factor in England’s poor performance in maths compared to other countries. The report puts the low usage down to ideological hostility to textbooks, particularly in primary schools.

It finds that texts encourage clarity regarding key concepts and core knowledge, provide clear learning progressions, include a wide range of examples and applications, support learner reflection and can be used in different ways by different teachers. It cites research from Reynolds and Farrell in 1996 which showed that in key jurisdictions, high performing teachers were well-disposed and enthusiastic about textbooks.

Eliminating unnecessary workload around planning and teaching resources, Department for Education (2016)

This report notes that high quality resources, including textbooks, can support teaching, reduce workload by teachers not having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and ensure high expectations of the content of lessons and conceptual knowledge.

The report says there is an argument for schools to place more emphasis on quality assured resources, including textbooks, in order to reduce the time teachers spend on searching for ad hoc resources, allowing them to focus on the intellectual exercise of planning sequences of lessons.

Are secondary schools spending enough on books? British Educational Research Journal (2003)

This study concludes that schools may be allocating too few resources to books compared to ICT. The study said that evidence from schools with six forms shows that book expenditure has a significant positive effect on student’s exam performance, while effects of ICT expenditure is insignificant at A level and GCSE.

The study found that raising book expenditure from £10 to £11 increases GCSE points by 0.08. It recommended that schools should spend at least £60 per student on books.

Association of Teachers and Lecturers survey (2014)

According to a survey conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) in April 2014, 26% of its members in state schools and colleges said their school asked parents for voluntary contributions towards text or revision books. Only 30% of those surveyed said their school would foot the bill if parents could not afford to pay for textbooks.

A British Educational Research Journal study found that raising textbook expenditure from £10 to £11 increases GCSE points by 0.08, and recommended that schools should spend at least £60 per student on books.

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Our Mission Statement

The Textbook Challenge is a campaign calling for every child to have access to a textbook in the main subject areas.

Textbook Challenge Campaign
The Publishers Association
50 Southwark Street
London SE1 1UN

Tel: +44 (0)20 7378 0504