Ignorant minister Nick Gibb says history teachers don’t use textbooks

Nick Gibb climbed on his hobby horse again this week and criticised teachers for not using textbooks more. The replacement of textbooks with work sheets and hundreds of thousands of bespoke written lesson plans, he claims,  has added to teacher workload, detracted from curriculum coherence, negatively affected standards and cost schools huge sums of money in printing and photocopying. How on earth he could claim that this has affected standards is beyond me. Surely in this evidence-based world he needs to back this up with any evidence at all !!

And unless you feel that he is talking about just Maths textbook, he devotes a significant part of his speech to lambasting history teachers. In his exact words.

I’ll give one example. In the Key Stage 3 History Curriculum requires 11 to 14-year-old pupils to be taught about the development of Church, state and society in Britain 1509-1745. The national curriculum gives some suggested areas of focus to teachers, but without the support of a detailed and well-structured textbook pupils risk leaving school without a rich understanding of the complex links between Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution.

Without the cultural capital provided by an education that includes exploration of the causes and consequences of the 1689 Bill of Rights, children are denied a full appreciation of how Britain became a liberal democracy, let alone the historical reverberations of this a century later in the New World.

What errant crass nonsense. Is he really saying, as he clearly is, that without textbooks pupils will never learn about the link between the Reformation and the Glorious Revolution?

Are there no teachers in the room? Not only is this wrong-headed and ignorant, it is also insulting. It is actually the teacher who is better placed to offer the big picture linking overviews that he specifically cites. We deserve better from our ministers.

When he could be making valid points about reducing workload and stopping the mania of individually designed ( rather tna modified) ab initio teacher plans,which I would support, he over-simplifies the issue and completely misses the critical point about the dangers of a state textbook. At a time when some regimes are actually loosening state control of textbooks it seems that Gibb may well be moving us in the opposite direction- a move that would be catastrophic for history teachers. Thanks Nick but can forget your prejudices and return to the evidence!

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