Budget boosts book buying

16th March 2001 at 00:00
Publishers have a tough job trying to adapt to changing syllabuses but they hope some of the extra pound;1 billion for schools will come their way. Mary Cruickshank reports.

Of all the branches of the book business, educational publishing is one of the most volatile. Over the past 10 years, changes to the national curriculum have created a constant demand for new materials, which publishers have met - often at very short notice - only to find the goalposts moving yet again.

At the same time, schools struggled to find money for books as staffing and buildings became priorities for spending. Research by the School Book Alliance found serious shortages of books in schools as well as an over-dependence on out-of-date materials. So this year's budget announcement of an extra pound;1bn for schools over three years for spending on books, equipment and staff, was good news for everyone.

As John Mitchell, marketing director of Hodder amp; Stoughton says: "Our experience over the last year shows that when money is made available, books are what teachers still want."

There will be plenty in the publishers village to attract teachers with more spending power, in particular support for the English and maths frameworks at key stage 3 and the next generation of GCSE textbooks, ready for the new specifications which come on line in September.

Many of the new books will be targeted at specific syllabuses, reflecting the closer links between publishers and exam boards and the contentious exam-board badging of textbooks. Last year, the first of the new AS textbooks were published; this year their A2 partners will appear, along with books and resources for ke skills, a new area for post-16 publishing.

The citizenship curriculum is another growth area for publishers, with partnerships for developing materials, such as those between Nelson Thornes and the Institute of Citizenship; and Hodder amp; Stoughton; A amp; C Black and Evans Education and the Citizenship Foundation.

Online resources will also be much in evidence, with publishers using website links to enhance and extend print materials and create new channels of communication between publisher, author, teachers and students.

Keyed In is the weekly online maths magazine for users of Nelson Thornes' Key Maths (www.keyed-in.com), while www.fusee.co.uk is the popular site for users of Hodder amp; Stoughton's key stage 3 French course. Other best-selling textbooks will be constantly updated through their web sites, giving publishers the opportunity to respond to teachers' comments and requests for additional material.

Kay Symons, managing director of secondary publishing at Heinemann, anticipates a growing demand for support in delivering ICT. "As more teachers complete their NOF-funded training, they will want materials which help them deliver the ICT programmes of study and requirements in their own subjects," she said.

Heinemann is publishing ICT packs in all the major subjects. Nelson Thornes's primary ICT package of print and CD-Rom materials has been praised for its colourful flipover book; target setting and planning and assessment support. Designed for both the QCA schemes of work and the Scottish 5 - 4 guidelines, the scheme was recently adopted by Glasgow City LEA.

STANDS PV107 PV210 PV270 PV190 PV51.

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