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Nick Gibb: 'Teachers will lead the move back to textbooks'

The minister believes that the 'battle of ideas' over textbooks is about to be won

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Nick Gibb has said that a teacher-led move back to textbooks will be integral to the continued success of the national curriculum.

Speaking at a panel discussion this evening, hosted by the Policy Exchange thinktank, the school standards minister said: “In England, only 10 per cent of teachers use maths textbooks as the basis for their teaching, compared to 70 per cent in Singapore.

“The long-term movement away from textbooks is something that might be about to go into reverse…

“The teacher-led move back to textbooks will be integral to ensuring that the national curriculum is as effective as we’d hoped.”

He added that such changes would inevitably be led by teachers: “People are writing books. They’re attending conferences like ResearchEd. And I think the profession is taking control of the educational thinking that used to be the preserve of education professors.

“They’re taking control of the profession. That’s how we win the battle of ideas against the entrenched hostility to textbooks.”

'Must be cheaper'

Challenged by audience members to explain how schools would be able to afford to buy large quantities of textbooks, Mr Gibb said: “It must be cheaper to buy a textbook than to continually produce through the photocopier worksheets for children.”

This was backed up by other members of the panel – two of whom were also authors of textbooks – who spoke about their own experiences in schools. They all said that they preferred using textbooks to higher-tech alternatives.

Emma Lennard, a primary-curriculum consultant and former primary teacher, said: “I’d rather spend money on some books that are going to last me several years than on the technology option.”

And Robert Orme, head of divinity at West London Free School, and author and editor of a new set of RE textbooks, said: “There’s value still to something that can be held – physical material – rather than something that’s all on a screen.”

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