Don't blame us, say publishers

2nd June 2006 at 01:00
Teachers, not textbook producers, should be blamed if pupils follow courses which amount to little more than exam preparation, a publishers' organisation has said.

Graham Taylor, director of the Educational Publishers Council, said: "I do not think you can blame the exam boards or the publishers for producing effective textbooks.

"It is the teacher's job to deliver an education that goes over and beyond the raw requirements of the exam syllabus."

Publishing companies and exam boards hit back at the Society of Authors' claims, arguing that the resources they offer go beyond exam preparation.

Heinemann, the Oxford-based publishers, says its curriculum-enriching products include software for science offering simulated experiments and for maths which gives three-dimensional graphics.

Jill Duffy, managing director, secondary and vocational, for Harcourt Education, of which Heinemann is a leading brand, said: "We obviously do exam-specific books, which comply with the specification. But we also go far beyond it. Just to comply with the specification is not what we are about."

An AQA spokesman defended its exclusive tie-up with Nelson Thornes, the only company whose books it endorses.

He said: "There is an awful lot of stuff out there which we do not make any recommendation on because we have had no quality control over it.

"In entering into this agreement... we make sure that the materials are appropriate and that they are of the highest standard."

But he added: "Any other publisher is free to make textbooks available to teachers."

Elizabeth Tribe, director of schools publishing at Hodder Murray, said the popularity of exam-targeted books reflected the fact that the Government was judging teachers on results.

She said: "Is (the Government) asking schools to deliver a beautiful, rounded education in which children are given time to think? Or is it asking schools to deliver five or more GCSEs including English and maths?

"If exam boards are offering endorsements, it would be commercially stupid for publishers not to talk to them, because that's what the market wants."

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said it had no powers to regulate the content and production of text books.

A QCA spokeswoman added: "The best preparation for GCSE exams is to cover the programme of study."


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