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

Greater prioritisation of textbooks needed as survey finds 63% of teachers could make more use of them

Textbook Challenge Campaign news


Press release: Wednesday 14 March, 2018

Textbooks ‘pay for themselves’ if they save teachers 4.5 minutes a day

School textbooks need to save teachers only 4 and a half minutes a day in order to pay for themselves, according to new independent research which suggests cutting textbook use is a false economy.

With the UK school system facing real term budget cuts of 8% by 2019/20, according to the National Audit Office, textbooks are a victim of classroom austerity and unit sales are declining. Instead, teachers are forced to rely on free online resources of varying quality, with textbooks increasingly seen as an unaffordable luxury. In a 2017 NUT/ATL survey, 73% of teachers said their budget for books and equipment had been cut, and fewer than one in ten teachers now say they use textbooks in more than half their lessons.

Frontier Economics, in a report commissioned by the Publishers Association, looked at the role of educational materials in teacher time savings. The average teacher spends nine hours per week preparing their classes, with the total value of this time equating to £4.8bn a year. The estimated total UK spend on printed educational resources is £196m. Using this information, the report authors conducted a break-even analysis to uncover that textbooks need only save teachers four and a half minutes each day to pay for themselves.

There is some existing evidence suggesting that textbooks do save teacher time – with some limited survey data suggesting a saving of 18 minutes a day or more. Against this figure, the report authors note that “textbooks pay for themselves four times over.” It is also noted that their calculation is based on data for full-time teachers only. As textbooks are likely to save time for part-time teachers too, 4 and a half minutes is a conservative calculation.

When the average teacher spends nine hours per week preparing their classes, the time that they can save is potentially hugely valuable, freeing teachers up to do other things. It could reduce teacher workload, be used to give students more individual attention, used for lesson delivery planning or a number of other things which could influence pupil attainment.

Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association, said: “This research shows that cutting spend on textbooks is a false economy and demonstrates the important role good quality textbooks can play in saving teacher time.

“When teachers are struggling under heavy and sometimes unmanageable workloads, quality textbooks not only offer a way to reduce the amount of time spent planning lessons, but they have also been shown to improve pupil attainment and education standards.

“While there is no silver bullet in helping to solve the problem of excessive teacher workload or improving pupil attainment, it is clear that textbooks have an important role to play.”


Contact: Ruth Howells
Head of Communications
Publishers Association
d: +44 (0)20 7089 5829
e: rhowells@publishers.org.uk



Press release: Friday 25 November, 2016

Greater prioritisation of textbooks needed as survey finds 63% of teachers could make more use of them

An independent survey released today by the Publishers Association, shows that 63% of primary and secondary teachers in English schools could be making more use of textbooks, while one in five don’t use them at all. This is despite the fact that the survey also showed that more than 90% of teachers say they believe textbooks can improve pupil attainment and nearly 60% say that using textbooks helps reduce the amount of time they spend planning lessons.

In response, The PA is today launching The Textbook Challenge, a campaign calling for the whole education sector to strive to ensure that ‘every child has access to a textbook in the main subject areas’.

The new research also showed that:

  • 90% of primary school teachers believe textbooks can improve pupil attainment. Nearly half of all teachers and 64% of secondary teachers think textbooks make a significant improvement.
  • 59% of teachers say that using textbooks would definitely help reduce the amount of time they spend planning lessons.
  • Nearly half (45%) of all teachers say funding strongly impacts their ability to use more textbooks, with over half (56%) of secondary teachers saying that funding has an extensive impact on their ability to purchase textbooks.
  • A third of primary school teachers are not using textbooks at all while in secondary schools only 10% of teachers said they make no use of textbooks. In total 21% of teachers are making no use of textbooks at all.

The importance of using high quality textbooks to improve standards and reduce teacher workload is shared by Schools Minister Nick Gibb who has stated that “All the evidence shows that high-quality textbooks are good for teachers, students and parents” and that “Textbooks work”.

Commenting, Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association, said:

“Textbooks are a vital resource in helping to reduce teacher workload and to improve educational attainment. However, as this research shows, despite these benefits they are being under used in schools and many teachers are unable to buy the textbooks they need due to a lack of funding.

“At a time when teachers are increasingly finding their workloads unmanageable, it is more important than ever that they have access to resources which can help make lesson planning easier while also helping to improve standards. This is why we are launching the textbook challenge today: a new challenge calling for every pupil in England and Wales to have access to a textbook in the main subjects.”


Notes to editors

  1. The survey was conducted by C3 Education and was sent to a panel of 2100 primary and secondary school teachers. It was responded to by a total of 687 teachers. The panel was formed of coordinators and heads of key stage and co-ordinators and head of department in three core subjects.
  2. The figure that shows that 63% of teachers could make more use of textbooks in schools is based on the percentage of teachers who said they only make ‘some’ use of textbooks.
  3. The Publishers Association is the leading trade organisation serving book, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the UK. Membership comprises 120 companies from across the trade, academic and education sectors (htttp://www.publishers.org.uk)
  4. ‘Eliminating unnecessary workload around planning and teaching resources’, a report from the Department of Education, found that high quality 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”.
  5. ‘Why textbooks counts’, a policy paper from Tim Oates who chaired the National Curriculum Review, identified that the low usage of textbooks in English schools compared to in Singapore and Finland was a contributory factor in England’s poor performance in maths compared to other countries.





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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
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Tel: +44 (0)20 7378 0504