A snapshot of the role of the textbook in English secondary mathematics classrooms

  • Lisa O'Keeffe University of South Australia
  • Bruce White University of South Australia


The role and function of the mathematics textbook has been widely discussed since its inclusion in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science study (TIMSS) in the late nineties.  They are a common feature in many classrooms worldwide and have been identified as important vehicles for the promotion of curricula. However, there has also been much debate about the role of a mathematics textbook and as a result there is anecdotal evidence to suggest a decline in the use of mathematics textbooks in England.  This paper reports on an examination of the current role of mathematics textbooks in secondary and middle schools in the North-West of England based on teachers self-reported use of mathematics textbooks. The data indicates that for all teachers in this sample who used a mathematics textbook, there is a positive correlation between the number of years teaching experience a teacher has and the amount of their classroom time that is ‘textbook driven’ and a negative correlation between the number of years’ experience a teacher has and the likelihood that they will use a mathematics textbook as their key resource for planning. These teachers also identified as having access to a range of different resources to supplement their use of mathematics textbook and using textbooks in varied ways such as to set reading tasks.


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