Teachers must buy books to adequately stock their classrooms, report says

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A new report has revealed that primary school teachers have to buy books themselves to stock their classrooms due to limited access to budgets.

In research published 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 they had no access to new books .

Meanwhile, almost four in 10 – 38% – said they had to buy books for their classrooms themselves.

Center for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) report finds 25% of schools have fewer books than before the pandemic, while more than 60% of classrooms lack access to a budget for new books.

Additionally, 17% of teachers said they relied on donations to update their stock of books, while 8% said they had never received new books for their classrooms.

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

Most primary school teachers – 95% – said they had a reading corner in their classrooms, but more than half – 57% – had less than 100 books.

“This rises to 84% of classrooms in the early childhood foundation stage (preschool and reception) and 73% of classrooms in first grade,” the report said.

“This is particularly damaging for children whose circumstances mean they don’t have access to books at home and whose reading progress is likely to have been affected by the closures,” he added.

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

Louise Johns-Shepherd, CEO of CLPE, said classrooms need “a wide range of books that encourage engagement whoever you are and wherever you come from.”

“A stagnant, never-changing stock of books isn’t going to help kids develop this life-changing habit,” she added.

“It’s even more important for children who may have less access to books at home – and these children are likely the ones who have struggled to get hold of books during the lockdowns.”

“Our report shows that teachers know and understand this, using resources in 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 a huge impact on a child’s future – whether it’s academic achievement, well-being 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 the books they want to read, the impact on their own lives – and on society as a whole – cannot be underestimated.”

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

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

“Our national funding formula distributes funding equitably, based on the needs of schools and their students. It is up to local authorities to balance supply and demand for places in schools, and to school heads to decide how to spend their budget.

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