School textbooks 'too focused on exam preparation rather than broadening children's learning'


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The Independent Online

School textbooks are too often focused on exam preparation rather than broadening children’s learning, according to exams regulator Ofqual.

It published research showing concerns over a conflict of interest between the exam boards and study aids they themselves have endorsed as textbooks.

“We did find evidence supporting concerns about the quality of learning resources generally,” their report said. “In particular, a rather formulaic approach, influenced by current endorsement processes, is resulting in textbooks that can be over focused on exam preparation at the cost of subject and sign posting to wider and more in depth reading.”

It criticises the trend for chief examiners to write textbooks covering their own subject areas, adding: “There is a concern that the current involvement of exam boards in the textbook market is impacting negatively on the quality of published teaching material, confidence in the exam system and ultimately on qualification standards.”

Ofqual announced it was also carrying out a review of Pearson’s publishing and awarding activities. The firm is a major education publisher and also has the Edexcel exam board in its portfolio.

Perason said it had “robust” conflict of interest procedures and added that it had decided it would no longer allow senior examiners to write resources to support qualifications they examined.

The report came as headteachers warned that the Government’s new English Baccalaureate - which is scheduled to replace GCSE’s in English, maths and science within four years - was too narrow.  “We should have a proper baccalaureate which covers the whole range of achievement in arts, engineering and volunteering as well,” Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers told a conference in London yesterday.

Philip Britton, headteacher of the independent Bolton Boys’ school, added that it was “barmy” to single out history and geography for recognition but ignore all arts subjects.