'Make textbook funding a priority', PA tells government

'Make textbook funding a priority', PA tells government

The Publishers Association has recommended that the government makes funding for textbooks a priority.

The trade body made the call in response to the Education Committee’s inquiry on school and college funding.

According to figures collected on behalf of the Publishers Association, in 2016 print and digital education sales fell by 13% year-on-year, highlighting the impact of school cuts. The PA launched The Textbook Challenge campaign the same year after an independent survey found 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.

Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said online resources were no substitute for textbooks and - while often seen as "an unaffordable luxury" - the time they could save teachers made them a worthwhile investment.

"With the UK school system facing increasingly constrained budgets, schools are finding it more difficult to afford the high-quality learning resources they need, with textbooks often seen as an unaffordable luxury. However reducing access to textbooks is a false economy which will damage educational standards and add to teacher stress," commented Lotinga on the issue.

"Textbooks can dramatically cut teacher workloads and lesson planning time. Just five minutes of a teacher’s time saved per day is enough for a textbook to be worth the investment. They provide students with the same access to high-quality core learning materials, attuned to the current curriculum. Free online resources cannot and should not fill the gap, which is why we are calling on the Education Committee to recommend that the Government makes the funding of textbooks a priority in its overall funding for schools and colleges."

The PA cited what it termed "a growing body of evidence demonstrating the role textbooks can play in reducing teachers’ workload" as part of its response. This included research commissioned by the PA and conducted by Frontier Economics, concluding "textbooks pay for themselves four times over”, as well as a survey of teachers commissioned by the PA showing 90% of primary teachers and 98% of secondary teachers believe that textbooks boosts pupil attainment.