Paul Fisher reports the results of the Educational Publishers' Council survey of textbooks in schools.
The Educational Publishers' Council survey showed Northern Ireland was the biggest spender on books. None of the 69 schools that completed the EPC questionnaire spends less than Pounds 10,000 a year on books and nearly three-quarters spend more than Pounds 20,000.
A third of Northern Irish schools spend more than Pounds 30 per pupil per year and its secondary schools spend an average of Pounds 46.68 per pupil. This sum matches the Book Trust recommended benchmark and so, according to this criterion, GCSE and A-level teachers are getting about what they want.
The province has the best A-level results in Britain. In 1994 Northern Irish sixth-formers did better than in any other UK region with 15.5 per cent getting A grades compared with 14.7 per cent in England.
A Northern Ireland Office spokesman says book expenditure is one small part of what makes the results better.
"Since Northern Ireland's pupils are not inherently more intelligent," said a Belfast Telegraph leader, "the difference must be in the system of selection, together with secondary schooling which is funded across the board by the state - unlike the rest of Britain."
Others suggest that good marks are to do with general attitudes to education, respect for teachers and high overall educational budgets.
The latter is not the case because in 199394 the English investment of Pounds 1,630 per primary pupil and Pounds 2,245 per secondary pupil compared to Northern Ireland's figures of Pounds 1,461 per primary pupil and Pounds 2,275 per secondary pupil.
A tentative conclusion from these figures is that Irish schools value book learning more highly and, perhaps, that this is subsequently reflected in better exam results.
SPENDING ON BOOKS PER PUPIL
England and Wales LEA - Pounds 13.33 England and Wales GMInd - Pounds 24.22 Scotland - Pounds 13.61 Northern Ireland - Pounds 28.37 SECONDARY
England and Wales LEA - Pounds 23.02 England and Wales GMInd - Pounds 37.77 Scotland - Pounds 21.57 Northern Ireland - Pounds 46.68