To expect schools to provide textbooks?

(40 Posts)
Floppityflop Sun 07-Jul-13 17:51:45

Was helping young relative at secondary school with some homework and I asked whether she had a textbook. Her mum said they don't get given textbooks any more and are supposed to use the Internet for homework. Is this normal? How do they know which sources to trust about science at that age? I know schools struggle with money, but seriously?! Is this for real?

Floppityflop Sun 07-Jul-13 17:52:44

I recognise textbooks can go out of date but not on the basics...

AuntieStella Sun 07-Jul-13 17:55:09

Well, we have textbooks (and they make DSes bags weigh a flipping ton).

I'm a bit hmm about claim that Internet imput be used. Unless they are ready to provide pupils with no home access with a suitable device.

SuperiorCat Sun 07-Jul-13 17:57:55

No textbooks here - we get a list of recommended books that they can buy from the school...

Eyesunderarock Sun 07-Jul-13 18:00:55

DS had several of his textbooks given to him on CD, as well as paper copies.
If a child has no access to a computer at home, they are expected to use the computers in the school resource centre/library.
I'm a book person myself. smile

schooldidi Sun 07-Jul-13 18:01:12

We generally don't give textbooks out to many pupils to take home, mainly due to the sheer weight of their bags if they had textbooks for all subjects that they needed to carry between home and school.

We've also found that the books last longer if they are kept at school, they don't get lost or damaged, etc. If I expect kids to use the internet for any homework I generally give a list of reasonable websites to get them started.

noblegiraffe Sun 07-Jul-13 18:04:14

One set of textbooks can be shared between a few classes at my school. No way we could send them home.

Floppityflop Sun 07-Jul-13 18:12:39

It seems the problem is a financial one then. I am surprised that parents are expected to buy books at some schools as well! Things are clearly not as good in this country as I thought they were.

Sirzy Sun 07-Jul-13 18:17:26

We were never sent home with textbooks when I was at school. No way could a school realistically be expected to provide them for every pupil.

If needed we were given photocopies of the appropriate pages

(And I left school 13 years back)

mummytime Sun 07-Jul-13 18:17:51

My DCs school issues textbooks for quite a few subjects. Other schools rarely do. But there is a lot of information on the Internet, although BBC Bitesize isn't as good as it used to be.

Our high school has one set in the classroom and each kid takes a set home to use for homework, so we keep them through the school year and return them in the last week. The teachers collect for each class subject and mark it off as received, if they forget, then the next school year they have to return them before they can get their class timetable or pay for them. I'm sure a few go missing, but it's stamped with the school name all through and local thrift store and library return them when they find them.

BackforGood Sun 07-Jul-13 18:25:59

ds's school rarely used textbooks as there is such a variety of presentation tools these days, the lessons are presented through multi media. It keeps things up to date, it means you can make adjustments as things change, it means you can look at things in 3D, or moving, etc., depending on what it is you are studying.

It means the dcs aren't lugging half a library back and forth.
It means the school don't lose stuff to the dc / families that never return them.
It means the homework can be set at appropriate levels and differentiated far more easily, and adapted to the present (say a new development in science or maybe choosing to link a topic in with something in the media currently such as the Olympics, last year, etc.)

It's not just about saving money.
A lot of the work set is on a special site linked from the school - it's not a random google necessarily.

SueDoku Sun 07-Jul-13 18:34:32

I recently retired from working in the Library at a FE College - we might have 100 students who all needed to use the same core textbook, which at £30-40 a copy (which might be out of date after 1 year if the syllabus changed) really adds up - but buying a multi-user e-book which all students could access via the Library Catalogue would cost somewhere in the region of £200-800. It's no contest when budgets are being cut all round....

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 07-Jul-13 18:35:17

I bought a brand new class set of texts books two years ago, at the end of teh first lesson that they where used three had haf there covers ripped off and pages ripped out and several others had phallus' drawn
on them.

The parents off the children that damaged the books didn't care.
At £25 per book I now scan the pages that I need and put them on the VLE.

SacreBlue Sun 07-Jul-13 18:38:00

DS school has money for flat screen tvs but none for textbooks (he came home with one falling apart) they have money for each child as a 'deposit' until they leave tucked away in high interest acc?

The Internet is a valuable tool, not everyone has access for homework tho and even so I think it requires a different type of 'searching' to ensure sources are authentic (outside of school's intranet systems etc)

It also means that pupils, who may not have consistent access, could find it harder to do extra study - or of course even if access is no problem, there are a lot more distractions on the Internet than in a book.

Internet sources might throw up the latest thoughts or findings on a subject, which can be interesting, tho with limited teaching time & specific subjects to cover, the discussion in class might mean something valuable to pass the exam is glossed over.

I am all for new media and saving DS back since now lockers are no longer being supplied hmm but text books still have a part to play imo so I would be happy to see schools retain good quality texts & run that along side Internet sources rather than throw out either.

ilovesooty Sun 07-Jul-13 18:51:01

Since most schools have a VLE text books are far less necessary, and when I was teaching we rarely allowed pupils to take them home, except for the novels for Year 11 exams. Vandalism and loss were total headaches. In quite a few European countries pupils have to buy their own learning materials. I suspect that the books are then better looked after.

frogspoon Sun 07-Jul-13 19:09:25

I work in a lot of schools (as a supply teacher) and the majority do not allow the students to take the textbooks home.

This is because they are very expensive and a significant number get lost or damaged (either accidentally or on purpose).

Most textbooks now come with a VLE version that the kids can log into from home.

It surprised me when I first started teaching, but I see that it is the norm.

Eyesunderarock Sun 07-Jul-13 19:13:22

Yes, our local secondaries run the same system that squinkies seems to, as well as the VLE and the rest. The copies are numbered and given to a student. They are then responsible for returning it in the same condition.
It is down to expense, and I also think that the fact the books are seen as school property means in many cases they are not respected.
I worked in a primary school in a very deprived area, the damage and loss of all sorts of equipment was constant.
Except from my Y6 class library, because it was entirely stocked with books that had my name in them, and I told them they were borrowing from me personally. I'd also source books that they requested where possible. The books were mostly from charity shops where my parents lived, in a very posh area. Read once or twice and binned, then rehomed by me.

Bunbaker Sun 07-Jul-13 19:16:30

"Her mum said they don't get given textbooks any more and are supposed to use the Internet for homework. Is this normal?"

DD is just staring her year 9 syllabus. She has never been given a textbook at this school. They are told to use the internet for research. Although we sometimes use the local library.

Crowler Sun 07-Jul-13 19:17:26

Argh. My son (year 5) gets summaries written by his teachers on papers to bring home. Why?

Back in my day, we had textbooks. Obviously, they were written by the best qualified people in the field. I don't understand why anyone thinks something written up by a teacher could be better than a textbook.

Eyesunderarock Sun 07-Jul-13 19:19:04

Internet for research without knowing what is and isn't a reputable site is dreadful though.
DS was told not to use wikki as a source at A level. but to follow links and check up and verify. GCSE should be given a list of sites in the same way as being given a booklist.

Eyesunderarock Sun 07-Jul-13 19:20:19

Exactly, Crowler.
Well, not all books, there are some loopy ones out there but most MS books are reasonably reliable.

Floppityflop Sun 07-Jul-13 19:20:25

I am just concerned that there is no replacement of the material you would need to revise from - no worksheets or VLE where the material is presented and where you could go back to consolidate or revise for a test. Teacher has the exercise book for marking so it was the Internet or nothing - and no appropriate direction as to which websites. I have done a little research and can see that BBC Bitesize is good (although I note from the above that it's not perfect).

It's shocking that we have to resort to breaching copyright just because some idiots destroy the books! I think a small booklet accompanying a website would be better than nothing, as long as library at school or locally has good opening hours. It also means the materials can be updated more frequently. But even libraries are being cut, so how can children who don't have computers access this material conveniently?

I am clearly a little out of date as both DH and I left school some time ago and don't have our own children yet. I've done professional courses using VLEs and textbooks which had supplementary online content but that was my choice so I paid for a computer etc. and college had all the resources I needed. Expecting all families to be able to do so is a different matter. Saying you should use the homework club or whatever isn't always going to be realistic and some families need more help than others. I would certainly need a maths textbook if I was going to help with maths homework!

Bunbaker Sun 07-Jul-13 19:24:43

"Internet for research without knowing what is and isn't a reputable site is dreadful though."

Which is why DD's teachers often provide links to recommended websites. DD's school bag is heavy enough as it is without having to cart a load of textbooks around.

"I am just concerned that there is no replacement of the material you would need to revise from - no worksheets or VLE where the material is presented and where you could go back to consolidate or revise for a test."

What about MyMaths?

Eyesunderarock Sun 07-Jul-13 19:26:04

What's the answer, Floppity?
If you could guarantee that a textbook would be treated properly and returned in good condition, or replaced by the student, then the outlay would be worth it. But you can't.

Scholes34 Sun 07-Jul-13 19:30:39

It's ridiculous that text books quickly date because the syllabus changes, and no big surprise that it's the exam boards which sell the text books who are changing the syllabus.

The whole approach to secondary school work seems a little disjointed. As a parent, it would be much easier to help your child if you had a better idea of which direction their learning is going in. As someone mentioned down-thread, a booklet to be used in conjunction with an age appropriate web-site would be very useful. I seem to spend a lot of time helping my DCs find useful sources of information for school projects. Wikipedia is too difficult for them to use. Thank heavens for Woodlands Junior School.

FrogsGoWhat Sun 07-Jul-13 19:41:52

Our textbooks are available as PDFs on the VLE.

Parents can choose to print them off if they like, or pupils can save them to their laptops etc.... maybe this is what they meant by "on the internet"?

Hulababy Sun 07-Jul-13 19:46:53

Even when I was at school in the 80s you didn't get to take textbooks home usually. Definitely not at KS3 and unlikely at GCSE. Sometimes in A Level. On the odd occasion you did it had to be brought back within a day or two at most, ready for another class.

Textbooks are expensive.

maddy68 Sun 07-Jul-13 19:48:18

we have the text books in school but at around £20 each we never let the kids take them home. Most stuff they need is provided on the VLE so they can access at home
it is rather assumed they have internet access these days!

CloudsAndTrees Sun 07-Jul-13 19:49:47

My dc only have text books for a couple of subjects, they use MyMaths and the VLE most of the time. They are doing well at school, so it can't be doing them any harm.

Floppityflop Sun 07-Jul-13 22:32:40

Well, maybe it doesn't have to be textbooks, but I don't see Wikipedia as a suitable alternative. I don't think there is a VLE where notes or PDFs are provided. If there is and you can't afford to print things off how are you supposed to revise? I am sure there was always a certain percentage of books that were returned dog eared anyway and it's surely no worse now.

I accept that method of delivery can change but I'm not sure the alternatives are suitable for everyone yet or that the alternatives are authoritative. What if a child uses a creationist source to do biology homework, for example? Is even the BBC suitable for all subjects or is there some inherent bias?

it just seems to me that the students are being left to fend for themselves and, while I wouldn't expect spoon feeding at A level, a certain amount is required at an earlier stage so that students can have an elementary understanding of basic subjects.

BackforGood Sun 07-Jul-13 23:13:54

But you have been told by lots of us that they are not been left to 'fend for themselves' - there is all sorts on their school sites. Sorry, I'm not au fait with all the different names and exactly what they do, but I know my ds has used something called 'moodle' (I think) which has all sorts of work put on it by all his subject teachers and is specific to all the subjects, the current curriculum, and all the year groups at his school. He has done (again, I think the name is) SAM learning, where they log on and do revision / test papers / practice papers in maths. All this is put up the by the school staff, and there to be accessed by the pupils. I know one of the maths ones is self marking, and has a sort of Leader Board thing which eggs the students on to come back and beat previous scores. The staff can see how many times a pupil has been on, and how they are getting on with things. They will also point you in the direction of specific revision guides if you want to buy a text book - but it isn't necessary, it's up to you if you want to do that for some reason.
I suspect there are fewer teenagers without access to the internet than you'd think Floppity, but I'm fairly confident well I know from experience that if a pupil can't access something, the staff will go out of their way to set work in a different way for them, or print something out for them. The point being, that will be for a small minority of pupils, not the same as buying over 200 text books for just one year group.

I suppose if the teacher tells them exactly what website to use for the research and they have reliable service, then it would be OK, but to just "use the internet" is really not goign to work. There are way too many conflicting views and misinformation out there, that the kids would probably all be able to come up with a different answer to any given question (depending on subject) If they are following a syllabus then that needs to be followed not to go off on a tangent and read other opinions and ideas. How will they pass exams if they really aren't sure what to follow.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 07-Jul-13 23:24:50

Generally text books are only used for cover, I would be horrified if staff at our school used them in class. IMO text books = lazy teaching.

BackforGood Sun 07-Jul-13 23:25:14

The only time I can ever think of any of my dc being told to just 'research' something was when they were looking at sources in history. I can't remember what it was they were asked to look at now, but it was a fairly recent event from the news, and the whole point of the homework (and the next lesson in school) was to help them realise that, depending on where you looked for your information, you would get a very, very different version of the same event. It wasn't about the "facts" they were finding, but actually a lesson in how to be wary of believing any bit of information they read on the internet (or indeed newspapers / news websites / etc).

CleverClod Sun 07-Jul-13 23:25:40

DS has text books for lots of his subject. For the few without he's given worksheets ( maybe 1/2 subjects). It's only for English that we've had to purchase a text book, so he can write notes in it.

SprinkleLiberally Sun 07-Jul-13 23:27:27

If we provided text books for every pupil in ks3, it would cost about £6000 per year group for every subject. More actually because one book rarely provides everything. They don't last well and are used more rarely now due to vle and staff PowerPoint. They just aren't the value they used to be so we buy about 60 per year group for school use. At gcse we can't afford to update due to constant changes in the specs though.

maddy68 Sun 07-Jul-13 23:54:08

all schools HAVE to have a VLE so relevent stuff will be on there - move with the times - not everyone learns from a text book smile

trinity0097 Mon 08-Jul-13 04:53:21

It is so hard to buy textbooks that are not linked to a specific curriculum. So schools can't invest in ones that won't go out of date at a drop of Mr Gove's hat! They are also very expensive for what they are! I just put in an order for 12 textbooks, key stage 2 maths, one answer book and it came to about £250! Secondary books all seem to be over £15 each!

I would buy some revision guides to have at home and let the school teach how they like.

Bunbaker Mon 08-Jul-13 06:24:05

"I suppose if the teacher tells them exactly what website to use for the research and they have reliable service, then it would be OK, but to just "use the internet" is really not goign to work."

Which is why I stated in my post that the teachers often provide links to appropriate websites. The children are also advised not to use Wikipedia for research. DD uses MyMaths and the school's VLE and it works very well.

I agree with BackForGood and think there are fewer pupils without access to the internet than you think. DD's school has loads of touchscreen computers available for pupils to use after school and all of our libraries have computers for the general public to use - free of charge.

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