In the context of this unit 'textbooks' are school books intended
for pupil use only.
Pupil textbooks are an integral part of the curriculum containing
knowledge, explanation and exercises essential to the understanding
of each subject. In this unit we consider different aspects
of the management of textbooks, including their selection,
distribution and care.
Individual study time: 4 hours
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
know how to select appropriate textbooks for pupils
within the constraints of finance and governing policies
know how to ensure that the school is properly stocked
with appropriate textbooks
create a fair system for the distribution of textbooks
to all pupils
establish procedures for the proper care of books.
Principles and constraints of textbook management
(1) Identify as many principles as you can with regard to
the management of textbooks, including their selection, distribution
(2) List the main constraints you face in ensuring that each
pupil in your school is provided with sufficient textbooks
of an appropriate quality.
Some of the basic principles which should guide you in the
management of textbooks in your school are likely to include
1 The topics should be relevant to the curriculum.
2 Changes of standard textbooks should be restricted and spaced
across a number of years.
3 A textbook should be either robust and have a long life
expectancy, or be very cheap and be expected to last only
the length of a course.
4 The choice, type and quantity of textbooks required is determined
by the school's annual budget, pupil needs and curriculum
5 The value of textbooks must be appreciated by all who handle
Almost every school faces problems in ensuring the supply
of sufficient textbooks of the right quality to all pupils.
Some of the reasons why this is so include the following:
1 There are not enough funds to buy the textbooks needed.
There is no guarantee that adequate funds will be provided
in future years.
2 The chosen textbook is not available at the time and in
the numbers required. Replacement copies cannot be easily
found or purchased.
3 Within the school there might be insufficient expertise
and knowledge to make a meaningful choice of textbook.
4 In some schools there is a lack of secure, weatherproof
Qualities of a textbook
A textbook usually consists of text, index, diagrams, illustrations
(1) How important is each of these to pupils in, say, a Primary
1 class in Mathematics, or a Secondary 4 class in Literature?
(2) Explain what qualities we need to look for in textbooks
in different subjects at different levels.
Although the nature and level of content in a textbook is
important, so is the design, and this must be matched to the
level of the pupils, the subject and the teaching/learning
style which is being encouraged.
Criteria for selection
Make a list of ten key criteria which you think should be
used in the selection of textbooks. When you have made your
list try to arrange the items in rank order of importance.
Some of the factors which you have probably included in your
selection included may be:
suitability of the material for the age of pupil
language level within the pupil's grasp
good, clear, interesting expression
cost within the school's budget
content at the correct ability level and relevant to
the course of study
diagrams and illustrations appropriate to the pupil's
good, usable index
plentiful exercises: graded and relevant
material is related to the cultural contexts of all
the pupils and is free of bias.
Government policies with regard to the purchase of textbooks
vary considerably. For example, subject inspectors, after
consultation with subject panels, may compile a list of the
required textbooks which each secondary school must order.
Funds are made available for this purpose but the school can
decide the number of textbooks and the supplier. In some countries
publishers are under contract to produce specific textbooks
which are then supplied direct to schools without consultation,
whilst in others, all decisions about the selection of textbooks
are left to school heads and teachers. In countries where
parents have to buy the books the school can only recommend
which titles should be purchased.
Textbooks may classified in two types : Pupil books and Class
Pupil textbooks: These are issued to each individual
pupil who becomes responsible and accountable for them.
Class sets: These are issued to individual teachers
to be given out when the teacher requires them for a specific
lesson or part of a lesson, and are then collected in at the
end of the lesson. The teacher is therefore responsible for
the proper care of these books.
In some countries where the government pays for the textbooks
the main reason for deciding whether a textbook should be
ordered as a pupil book or as a class set is likely to be
differences in cost.
(1) Explain why it may be less expensive for a school to buy
class sets than textbooks for individual pupils.
(2) Class sets have to be accessible to each pupil when required.
Where should they be stored to enable this to be possible?
(3) How many books should there be in a class set? Check your
answer because it may not be the same number as the number
of pupils in the class.
(4) Under what circumstances might you have fewer books in
a set than number of pupils in the class, and under what circumstances
Using class sets can be cheaper because one set of books can
be used several times with different classes. Thus the ratio
of pupils to books may be 3:1, instead of 1:1. If the system
of class sets of textbooks is used, then the teachers must
be trained as to how to operate it effectively as much time
and effort may be wasted. The sets must be stored in the classrooms
where they are needed. If one book is shared between two pupils
then only half sets need be purchased, but if there are several
classes and clashes in the timetable then more than one set
may be required.
The question of cost may be critical, but it is also important
to think about cost-effectiveness. If textbooks are only available
in class, then how do pupils have time to read them at leisure
in order to really get to know a book, or have access to them
when they have homework to do. Class sets may reduce immediate
costs, but we also need to know what effect this option may
have on levels of pupil attainment.
Class sets are particularly useful in the provision of supplementary
readers in language work, but also in other subjects.
(1) Do you know exactly how long textbooks used in your school
(2) Identify the main factors which determine the life of
The life of a textbook varies a lot. One of the key factors
is who is looking after the book. A well bound book belonging
to a serious pupil is likely to last much longer than a poorly
bound book of a careless pupil who feels no responsibility
for it, nor is held accountable by the school or by his parents.
Other factors are changes which are made in the curriculum
or the arrival of a new teacher with his or her own preferences.
When resources are scarce then clear policies are required
within each school which are then implemented effectively.
Local production of textbooks
(1) What proportion of the textbooks used in your school are
locally written and produced?
(2) What is your school policy with regard to who a book is
written by and where it is produced?
(3) What are the advantages and disadvantages of locally produced
Locally produced textbooks should be purchased wherever possible.
Local authors are most likely to know both the curriculum
and the needs of the children, and local publishers may design
and print books in the way which is most appropriate for the
(1) Who may be responsible for this situation and why? Is it
the pupil, the teacher, the head, the parents, the Ministry
of Education, nobody or everyone?
A teacher has reported to the deputy head that a pupil has
not handed in a homework assignment. This is her third offence.
On investigating the case the deputy head finds that almost
half the class are without textbooks. He then reports this
situation to the head.
(2) What steps could you take to alleviate the situation?
It may not be appropriate to spend much time blaming people.
If we look at the situation more positively as a challenge
rather than a problem, then we may see that each of these
people may have a contribution to make to alleviate the situation.
The lesson of this case should be that the quality of learning
by pupils and their levels of achievement is closely related
to the quality, availability and use of textbooks, and thus
the quality of textbook management by the school head.
The annual order of textbooks has just been delivered at your
school. You arrange the issue of textbooks to the various
subject department heads, who in turn issue them to class
teachers who issue them to the pupils.
Check what you and your staff do in each of the following
(1) How are the books identified, so that one copy can be
distinguished from another?
(2) There is another school in the locality. How is it possible
to identify to which school the books belong?
(3) What steps are taken when a pupil wantonly damages a book?
Are the nature and level of action related to the degree of
(4) What happens when a pupil loses a book?
(5) Whose responsibility is it to check, and how often, on
books issued to pupils and teachers?
(6) Whose responsibility is it to:
- report lost books to the head?
- charge for lost books?
- store surplus textbooks?
(7) What happens to textbooks which are truly surplus, redundant
and no longer of value to the school?
(8) Design a book issue form for the pupil. Remember to leave
space for the pupil's signature.
The care of textbooks.
The life of any book will be extended if it is properly looked
after. Consider this case:
A carton of new books had arrived at the school for the library.
The teacher in charge of the library was determined that pupils
should be introduced to these books and learn to respect them
and treat them properly. She asked permission of the head
and then visited each class to give a talk on the books and
their contents. In one class she selected a book, and opened
it in front of the class, only to find that because the binding
was stiff the book would not remain open. She took the book
and bent it backwards, there was a loud 'crack' - the spine
of the book had broken...
What should the teacher do next?
(1) Report the matter immediately to the head?
(2) Pretend nothing has happened and carry on?
(3) Say she has broken the book deliberately to show the pupils
how easy it is to maltreat books?
(4) Explain to the pupils what has happened and why; that
this thoughtless action will cost her money because the book
must be replaced otherwise the pupils will be deprived?
Clearly the teacher has to set an example and so the last
option is the best. Always remember care reduces costs.
(1)List ways of caring for books:
- when in storage;
- when being transported;
- when in use.
(2) Should pupils be allowed to write in books, mark pages or
The availability, quality and effective use of textbooks is
one of the most important factors affecting the quality of
a school. Textbooks support the curriculum by reinforcing
and extending the work of the teacher. Thus good textbooks
can lead to better teaching. Constraining factors which may
limit textbook choice and reduce the frequency of textbook
change are cost, and the calibre of the teachers in schools.
It must be realised how important it is to have a system of
textbook management within your school in order to maximise
the use of this expensive resource and achieve higher levels
of pupil attainment.