Nick Gibb: All secondary schools should stock literary classics like Pride and Prejudice

Schools minister Nick Gibb has said today he wants every secondary school to fill their bookshelves with literary classics such as Great Expectations and Jane Eyre.

Mr Gibb said he wants all pupils to have access to literary classics that “inspire a lifelong love of reading” and has challenged book publishers to make 100 classic books available at low costs to schools.

Former schools minister David Laws warned last year of politicians meddling in school curriculum, saying the “whims of here-today, gone-tomorrow politicians” should not decide which books pupils study.

But, speaking at the Publishers’ Association Conference today, Mr Gibb said: “Access to these wonderful novels shouldn’t be the preserve of the few.

“I want every secondary school to have a stock of classics such as Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre so that whole classes across the country can enjoy them together.”

Publisher Penguin has since suggested 100 books it could offer for low prices and Scholastic has offered to give schools 26 books for as little as £1.50 each, the Department for Education has said.

Mr Gibb also called for an end to the “anti-textbook ethos” in English schools, and said great strides have been made to improve the quality of textbooks.

Schools Week reported today new guidelines for good textbooks were to be published. They covered seven subjects and included guidance such as including high-quality colour photographs and not teaching pupils just to pass tests.


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  1. Janet Downs

    And these books aren’t already in secondary school libraries? They’re just as likely to be present as good quality fiction aimed at teenagers.
    But libraries cost money and they need school librarians if they are to be run effectively. Can’t see that in today’s cash-strapped times.

  2. As a science teacher I agree wholeheartedly on a move to produce far better text books for our students to learn to become really independent learners. However books which only ‘teach to the test’are unlikely to be replaced until his government remove the ‘high stakes’ testing regime which blights all our students and teachers.

  3. James Williams

    Did he even think to ask if schools already stock these? My bet is that nearly every secondary will have one, if not all those he mentioned. If he had said ‘On the Origin of Species’ by Darwin or ‘Darwinism’ by Wallace he might have had a point (though Origin is tough going).

    When will ministers stop making speeches with silly soundbites and start addressing the real issues?

  4. Lesley Martin

    Another meaningless soundbite. You don’t inspire a life long love of reading by making pupils study ‘the classics’ but by giving them free access to a wide variety of great books from an early age. Invest in school libraries and librarians and you will soon see a generation of children who love reading and move on to the classics in their own time. Any secondary school with a librarian and a budget is likely to have these books already; sadly those schools are becoming fewer every year.

  5. Victoria Jaquiss

    We had to read David Copperfield in KS3, and it gave me a decade long loathing of Dickens, overturned by the joy of studying Bleak House at Uni {where English was sadly only my subsidiary subject]. Need to be careful with these classics too young.