EDUCATION: Books shortage hinders schools

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The Independent Online
Many schools are failing to meet the needs of the National Curriculum because of a shortage of suitable books, with parents unaware of the problem, it is claimed today. A study by the School Book Alliance has found that nearly one-third of pupils share books with classmates and another third are forced to use damaged or outdated editions.

With half of parents in the survey ignorant of the problem, most were shocked to learn how little schools spent on books - an average of pounds 19.23 per child. But only a quarter considered books to be the most important aspect of learning. With education being a hot political subject in the run-up to the election, two-thirds of the parents said they would be more likely to vote for a party which promised to devote extra money to education.

Professor Eric Bolton, a former senior chief inspector of schools, blames computers for the empty libraries and decrepit books. "There are very good arguments for increasing the number of computers in schools," he said. "But those arguments should not obscure the fact that books are absolutely essential for learning to read and for the development of a child's education."

Starved of Books, free, School Book Alliance, 22 Endell Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9AD