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Why Maths Textbooks Count (But Not Just Any Textbook)

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Why Maths Textbooks Count (But Not Just Any Textbook)

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a blog post published on August 4, 2016.

An increasing number of schools now see the value of using high-quality maths textbooks to support teacher subject knowledge and pupil learning.

Interest in maths textbooks fell out of fashion in the 1970s. The renewed interest is largely the result of a report from Tim Oates, called Why Textbooks Count.

The report is worth reading in full, but a key takeaway is that only 10 percent of teachers in England use maths textbooks as the basis for their teaching. In Singapore, that number jumps to 70 percent — a huge gap.

This ‘very problematic’ ethos, Oates concludes, is a contributing factor in England’s poor maths performance in international league tables. Recently, he spoke to that fact at our leadership conference. “It’s not surprising that textbook use is so low; the quality hasn’t been great. But the low use has also been driven by an anti-textbook ethos,” Oates says.

Watch the talk in full:

Tim Oates' research into high-performing education systems and use of textbooks

Having examined the issue, Oates concludes that using high-quality textbooks is key to ensuring schools in England teach maths to a standard that matches those countries that top the international league tables.

Read Tim Oates’ paper in full.