Teachers resorting to buying books for their classrooms – report

Six in ten primary school teachers have no access to new books.

28 February 2022

Primary school teachers are having to buy books to stock their classrooms because of limited access to budgets, a new report reveals.

In a study released for the 25th anniversary of World Book Day, a survey of more than 800 primary school teachers in January 2022 found that six in 10 teachers said that they had no access to new books.

Meanwhile, nearly four in 10 – 38% – said they were having to buy books for their classrooms themselves.

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) report finds that 25% of schools have fewer books than they did before the pandemic, while over 60% of classrooms have no access to a budget for new books.

Furthermore, 17% of teachers said they relied on donations in order to update their book stock, while 8% said they never received any new books for their classrooms.

Nearly half of those surveyed – 48% – were unable to change books in their classroom during the school year, “meaning the opportunity for children to discover new books and explore their tastes and interests is severely limited”, the report said.

Most primary school teachers – 95% – said they had a book corner in their classrooms, but over half of these – 57% – contained fewer than 100 books.

“This rises to 84% of classrooms in early years foundation stage (pre-school and Reception) and 73% of classrooms in Year 1,” the report said.

“This is particularly damaging for children whose circumstances mean that they do not have access to books at home and whose reading progress is likely to have been affected adversely by lockdowns,” it added.

“Schools need a wide selection of books to support children to discover and develop a love of reading.”

Louise Johns-Shepherd, chief executive of CLPE, said that classrooms needed “a wide range of books that encourage engagement whoever you are and whatever your starting point”.

“A stagnant and never-changing book stock is not going to support children to develop this life-changing habit,” she added.

“This is even more important for children who may have less access to books at home – and these children are likely to be those who found it difficult to get hold of books during the lockdowns.”

“Our report shows that teachers know and understand this, resorting to resourcing their classrooms themselves to ensure their children have choice in their reading material,” she added.

Cassie Chadderton, chief executive of World Book Day, said: “We know that reading for pleasure has an enormous impact on a child’s future – whether that’s their educational success, wellbeing or mental health, so access to books in the classroom plays a vital role in creating this life-changing habit.

“If children can’t find books they want to read the impact on their own lives – and for society at large – cannot be underestimated.”

She added that the report “clearly shows that this lack of access to books needs addressing urgently”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We continue to deliver year on year, real terms per pupil increases to school funding with a £7 billion cash increase in the core schools budget by 2024-25, compared with 2021-22.

“Our national funding formula distributes funding fairly, based on the needs of schools and their pupils. It is for local authorities to balance the supply and demand of school places, and school leaders to decide how to spend their budgets.”

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