Textbooks 'pay for themselves' in four and a half minutes

Cutting back on textbooks is a 'false economy' because they save teachers valuable time in planning lessons, says study

Helen Ward

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Textbooks "pay for themselves" if they save teachers more than four and a half minutes a day, a new study shows.

The study from Frontier Economics, commissioned by the Publishers' Association, estimates that the time UK teachers spend on preparing lessons is worth £4.8 billion a year.

With schools shelling out about £196 million per year on printed resources, the researchers calculated that the amount of money spent on textbooks was equivalent to around four and a half minutes of teachers’ weekly preparation time.

“This research shows that cutting spend on textbooks is a false economy and demonstrates the important role that good quality textbooks can play in saving teacher time,” Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers' Association, said.

“When teachers are struggling under heavy and sometimes unmanageable workloads, quality textbooks not only offer a way to reduce the amount of time spent planning lessons, but they have also been shown to improve pupil attainment and education standards.”

Budgets for textbooks cut

The report comes after a thinktank said last week that the lack of textbooks in classrooms was putting the national curriculum at risk.

Policy Exchange argued that there is no guarantee that all children will receive a broad and balanced education without better curriculum materials – and it wants to see all schools judged to be “coasting” or “requires improvement” compelled to use externally provided resources.

Last year, in a survey carried out jointly by the NUT and ATL teaching unions, 73 per cent of teachers said their budget for books and equipment had been cut.

And a Tes-YouGov survey in September 2017 found that only one in 10 teachers said they used textbooks in more than half of their lessons – and just 8 per cent thought they would use textbooks that often by 2020.

Reducing teachers' workload is a key aim for education secretary Damian Hinds, who told the Association of School and College Leaders’ conference this weekend that he wanted to “give teachers the time and space to focus on what actually matters”.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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