Writers deplore textbook tie-ins

2nd June 2006 at 01:00
A writers' union this week called on exam boards to stop endorsing GCSE and A-level textbooks, after claiming that the "immoral" phenomenon is damaging education.

Boards are profiting by selling endorsement rights to publishers, who then produce books which are so closely geared to test preparation that they are little more than crib sheets, it is claimed.

And the rise of "all you need to know" endorsed books is killing young people's enthusiasm for learning.

The warnings come from the Society of Authors, which has 750 educational writers as members.

Philip Pullman, author of the acclaimed His Dark Materials trilogy and a former chair of the society, said: "If you are teaching just to get your kids through the test, you are going to narrow, make shallow, make superficial all the things you teach them."

Links between exam boards and publishers have grown in recent years. In 2003 Pearson, the world's biggest educational publisher, bought the Edexcel board. And last December, AQA did a deal with Nelson Thornes.

The Joint Council for Qualifications operates a code of practice which says reading lists in exam syllabuses should include non-endorsed texts.

Elizabeth Tribe, director of schools publishing at Hodder Murray, admitted exam-specific textbooks now dominated. But she said this was in response to teacher demand.

analysis 18, leader 22

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today