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Textbook standards 'need to rise'

21/11/2014 Joanna
Schools reform minister Nick Gibb has called for improvements to be made to textbooks to ensure education standards continue to rise.

Mr Gibb said that while progress has been made by the government on reforming the curriculum, these changes need to be backed up by high-quality textbooks to help those in teaching jobs raise standards in the classroom.

A new paper published by Cambridge Assessment, entitled Why Textbooks Count, claims England has fallen behind its international counterparts when it comes to textbooks, which are essential for good teaching and high academic standards.

While 95 per cent of maths teachers in Finland and 70 per cent in Singapore use a textbook as a basis for instruction, the figure for England is just ten per cent - despite the fact that they have been key to better outcomes in these other countries.

The schools reform minister said teachers recognise the importance of textbooks, as they save time by obviating the need for tasks such as creating worksheets.

Pupils also benefit from a coherent, structured programme of study, while parents are better able to support their children with their homework using the resources.

The Why Textbooks Count paper shows a typical GCSE textbook contains "incoherent presentations, little signposting of key concepts and an approach focused more on preparing for GCSE-type questions than understanding the subject".

Most new primary curriculum textbooks also fall below the standards of those in other countries' education systems, and more needs to be done to ensure resources in England improve and match reforms to GCSE performance measures.

Mr Gibb said some progress has been made as a result of government funding to purchase high-quality phonics training and resources, while two UK publishers have joined forces with leading Singaporean publishers to develop versions of their world-class primary maths textbooks for England.

These Singapore-based textbooks are to be trialled in the new network of 34 maths hubs around the country, the minister announced.

Mr Gibb concluded by calling on publishers to help raise standards by providing "the type of textbook that policy makers can be proud to promote".

Posted by Theo FouldsADNFCR-2164-ID-801761637-ADNFCR
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